John Man, sitter and fiddler, attended a classical music concert recently. He enjoyed watching the skilled young musicians performing and spoke to us extensively about how he too used to play music when he was younger.
“You know, it might surprise you to find out that, just like those kiddies up on the stage, I was a musician too,” he said. “I used to play the piano all the time with Bethyl. We were a little bit famous for it, you know. We were called ‘John and Bethyl’.”
At this point Man started to gaze fondly off into the distance, a sure sign that much more information would soon be divulged. “I have a niece who plays piano,” he exclaimed. “She is doing her grades! Her name is Sally, and whenever I hear her play the piano it reminds me of the way I played piano as well with Bethyl.”
Man was very keen to talk to the musicians after the concert to discuss their interpretation of Schumann’s Piano Quintet and also whether or not they have done grades. “Sally is just such a tremendous pianist,” he said to the viola player. “I bet you would be impressed if for some reason you ever heard her play. Have you done grades like Sally? I bet you have. My goodness, that’s a big violin.”
Successfully locating the pianist in the change-room, Man had a particularly long chat with him about the complexities of the piano part. “You know, this piece is fiendishly difficult for the piano,” he explained. “You really ought to find that recording with the pianist Podunk McGee, have you heard of him? He plays it all!”
Edging forward with conspiratorial air, Man unwittingly spilled his wine on the carpet as he spat some of his salmon and cream cheese hors d’oeuvre into the pianist’s eye. “I do have one piece of advice for you,” he said. “It might be best if you find another cellist, because I really can’t see how it’s going to work. I’m not sexist, it’s just that some things are not meant to be.”
As he left the concert hall, Man was heard explaining sonata form to a passing tourist. “It’s so vital that these young musicians have the opportunity to perform, to showcase their skills, and to get tips from the old hands like me,” he said. “How else are they going to improve?”