Tuesday, May 27, 2014

How to Deal With Piano Bench Kickers

I imagine that your first question upon reading the title of this post is: "What is a Piano Bench Kicker?" Then perhaps: "Am I a Piano Bench Kicker?" I can answer the first question. A Piano Bench Kicker is someone who does annoying and/or rude things that interrupt your life. A key characteristic of a Piano Bench Kicker is that he or she should know better. I'm sure all of us have been a Piano Bench Kicker at one point or another. First stop being one... then learn how to deal with them.

Where did this strange term originate? I'll tell you. I took piano lessons all the way through my senior year of high school. As a hard-working slightly perfectionist person who had OCD even as a child, performing well in piano recitals was a HUGE deal, particularly before high school. I practiced every day for months. I wanted to do the best I possibly could, and it probably mattered way more to me than it should have.

Anyway, I remember one particular Christmas recital that was held in this really pretty church. The only unfortunate fact about the setting was the location of the piano. It was just a little too close to the front row. Because a ton of people were there, people even sat on the very front row. The piano keys faced the audience so that the performer's back would be to those in attendance. 

When the recital began, I watched as each pianist approached the bench and played his or her pieces, dazzling the audience. I wanted to do just as well. When it was my turn, I stepped up to the front, trying not to look as nervous as I felt. The whole place was silent, and I waited a moment before I began to play The Hallelujah Chorus, part of Handel's Messiah. Rhythm and emphasis were really important in this particular piece, and when I started out with the right tempo, I was relieved. I played the first few lines without incident.

Then, the unthinkable happened. The entire piano bench began shifting beneath me every few moments for some unknown reason, and it was totally throwing off my rhythm. Panicking, I tried to figure out the source of the interruption. It didn't stop. I wasn't anywhere close to the end of my song. I hadn't messed up yet, but if the bench-jerking didn't stop immediately, I was sure I would.

Then I remembered how close the front row was to the bench and realized someone behind me was repeatedly kicking the piano bench with the force David Beckham applies to his direct kicks from outside the penalty box. It wasn't just a light tap: it was BAD. I could HEAR it. I couldn't stop halfway through the song, but I couldn't go on like this. I did the only thing I could think of: I hastily memorized the next few bars and without stopping, turned around and located the kid who had been kicking my bench. Then I gave him the nastiest glare I could muster. I turned back to the piano without missing a note. Now, mind you, the offending Piano Bench Kicker was about my age, probably 11 or 12, and his parents were right there. (They should have told him to cut it out.) Regardless, my expression was the universal sign for "Stop this idiocy right now or else," so he stopped kicking my bench immediately.

I finished the song without making a mistake. Then I returned to my seat. That is how you deal with Piano Bench Kickers. (I mean, sometimes you will have to tell them to stop, but if a nasty glare will suffice—which is usually the case because people like that know better—go for it.) If you are a Piano Bench Kicker, stop it. If your offspring is one, tell him or her to stop it. If (when) you come across Piano Bench Kickers, don't let them interrupt your groove.

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