Y is for…….

Why?A Pianist’s Alphabet has lain rather fallow for the past few months but it’s back again now to ponder the eternal question of Why? (Do we do it?). When this Alphabet is complete, it is my intention to continue the series, returning to the letter A. If you would like to contribute to A Pianist’s Alphabet, please contact me

So why do we do it? Why do we play the piano. Why do we choose to spend so much time with that big box of wood and wires?

cobs012768552As children, I suspect many of us didn’t really question “Why?”. Perhaps we were simply pushed, gently or otherwise, by parents. As I recall (and I was only about 5), I was encouraged to learn the piano. I liked the instrument – my grandfather played the piano and I used to enjoy sitting next to him as he played, as well as rummaging through the piano stool, which contained old Methodist hymn sheets, music hall songs and albums like ‘Hours With the Masters’ and ‘Step by Step to the Classics’ by Felix Swinstead. As I grew up, I developed a very strong attachment to the piano: as an only child it provided a place where I could escape and create my own fantasies and stories, losing myself in music and my imagination for hours at a time. In addition, I was a dedicated student, who practised regularly and carefully and who progressed through the grade exams with relative ease. Now, as an adult who has returned to the piano after a long absence (some 20 years), it is my life and I would be bereft without it.

So why do I play the piano?

  1. I like the sound of the instrument and the endless opportunities it provides to create myriad of timbres and colours
  2. I like the physical feel of playing the piano, the sensation of finger on key, the engagement of the whole body when playing
  3. I enjoy the solitariness of being a pianist
  4. There is a wonderful and vast, vast repertoire to be explored. Enough keep one occupied for several lifetimes and to satisfy all tastes
  5. I relish the personal challenge and intellectual stimulating of learning and studying music
  6. My piano is not only my work horse but also a beautiful addition to my living room

Of course, all of these points could be applied to many other instruments, but I chose the piano. There are many other Whys?, both prosaic and philosophical. Why not share your Whys? in the comment box below……





  1. Beautifully put. Seeing the name Felix Swinstead ‘in print’ brought a small tear to my eye! Thank you!

    May I suggest “A is for A Pianist’s Alphabet”?! – or did you do that the first time around? (I shall have a think about other letters, and get back to you.)

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