May 10-17, 2016
It was time to take a break.
I’d been exploring Peru, finding rogue pianos, producing concerts, doing pro bono tunings, hunting down elusive piano technicians, and all the while running Floating Piano Factory from afar. The lines between my work and personal life had become increasingly blurry. I needed a little time to re-center.
Much like paddling into unknown waters on a surfboard, I do have a plan in mind as I move forward—but until the waves come, it’s hard to say exactly how things will turn out. I just keep trying to follow the paths that open up to me, and to pursue the things that feel most worthwhile. Taking some time to travel and relax seemed like a good way to gain some perspective.
Well, just as I started to paddle out, that’s exactly when the waves rolled in. Waves of emails, actually. I’d submitted a scientific paper to an academic journal, it was under review and I found out it would be considered for publication—if I was able to make an array of changes. Here I was, arriving in Colombia, hoping to step away from my work, but this was an assignment that just couldn’t wait.
It was finally time for me to depart from Arequipa.
My destination was Cartagena, which was the best option for a connecting flight to New York. Originally, I’d had grand plans of how I’d get there: I could take a train through Equador, stopping at hostels along the way, or I could climb aboard a river boat in the Amazon and wind through rainforests en route to Colombia. But after all my visits and adventures preparing to leave Peru, I was now a few days behind schedule. I’d have to go straight to Lima, where I could hop a flight directly into Cartagena.
Okay, so there were actually a few more things that happened before I left Arequipa.
I returned to La UNSA to work with the music students once again. This time, we pulled apart a piano so they could see how it’s assembled. How the various pieces all fit together.
This is a rare opportunity. As a student, you don’t usually get the chance to take a piano completely apart, because once you open it up and start poking around, it can get really delicate. There’s a lot you have to learn in order to explore without doing any damage.
But I’ll come back to that.
One of the first important steps in grand piano action regulation is the adjustment of glide bolts. The glide bolts sit at four points distributed lengthwise along the center rail of the grand piano action. They have a tuning-pin-shaped protrusion towards their top, a central threaded portion that allows for up-down adjustment, and smooth rounded bottom. The bottom of the glide bolt both provides support for the center rail of the action and allows the piano to easily glide from left to right when the una cord pedal is depressed. Continue reading
I’ve recently returned from some extensive travels over several weeks. This is why it’s been quiet on the blog for a while, but now we’re back online, and there are many new stories to share. New adventures, new friends, and of course, new pianos.
The next several posts will cover the entire journey, city by city. After departing from Arequipa in early June, I stopped in Lima, Bogotá, Medellín, Cartagena, New York, Philadelphia and Hong Kong—then returned by retracing my path.
While staying at la Casa de Melgar I met a painter, accompanied by a group of unusual tourists. This painter takes travelers on tours throughout the world, showing them how to document their experiences through artwork: instead of snapping photos, they paint pictures.
He discussed with me how you can have a richer sense of a place if you take the time to sit and paint it. You’re there for an extended period of time, and can watch the scene change as the hours pass. For example, he had just come from Cuzco where he had been painting the Plaza de Armas over several days’ sessions. Just before he finished his last sitting, a group of school children arrived, and they formed two rows as they waited for some activity. The geometry of it was such a perfect addition to the scene already in process—so he quickly sketched them into the piece before they dispersed.
The experience of a place is never captured in one photo, one video, one conversation, or one story. A memory lives with depth in time, space, and levels of awareness.
You don’t know what will come into frame if you take that extra time to watch and listen.