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You have written an encomium to the virtues of music making. Playing the piano is right at the heart of it all, because its intrinsic orchestral abilities allow it a breadth of feeling and expression that other instruments can only dream of. I cannot imagine a life without music, nor specifically without the piano, and I would be writing the entire night, were I to list what music has given back to me in return for my efforts. Your comments about the Internet and the negative (I would even say nefarious) effect it has had on human interaction are spot on. I think that people will eventually realize what they've lost. A good piano salesman such as yourself is a blessing that should not be taken lightly. I was particularly impressed by your story of the young conservatory graduate who came in on an ostensibly quick buying trip, but left several hours later following your careful, and caring, guidance and tutelage. That young man probably doesn't realize, even today, how lucky he was!

Your book sparked off so many ideas, and I don't have the time to write all of them down. But, two things do come to mind. One is your comment that the same piano sounds different under a different set of hands. A number of years ago, I was the adjudicator in a competition over in London, along with a much older lady, both feared and revered within the pianistic fraternity. The two of us listened to 25 competitors over two days - they each played about half an hour - and we were essentially listening to 25 different pianos. Honestly, the difference in sound and nuance from competitor to competitor was completely astounding, even shocking. And, it was the very same piano!! Under the hands of some, it became a monster. Under others, it expressed ineffable beauty. My second story has to do with my own purchase in London in 1985 of a Hamburg Steinway model D. The manager of Steinway was the legendary Bob Glazebrook, who had set up six concert grands for me to try on a Wednesday. As you probably know, I'm a fairly ebullient character, particularly when excited. But, when I came back into Glazebrook's office after an hour or so, he could tell immediately that I hadn't liked any of the six sufficiently to make a purchase. With that, he said: "Come back on Friday, I think I might have the piano you want!" Two days later, I reappeared, and it took me literally ten seconds to realize that this was the piano of my dreams (the piano had only just arrived in the shop on the first day, which is why it wasn't yet in the showroom). The point of all of this is that I held out for what I wanted. It was the purchase of a lifetime. I still own this fabulous instrument. And, I needed to be sure that this was how I wanted my musical voice to be heard, long into the future.

The piano is capable of a vast variety of sounds and nuances, and is a direct expression, I believe, of the human soul. It expresses ones totality. I think you've written a wonderful volume that addresses the need to give the utmost thought and consideration to the purchase of something which can only bring manifold returns. It is perhaps the most worthwhile investment any person can make.

My warmest congratulations, Ben, on this book.

~ Craig Sheppard,
Concert Pianist and Steinway Artist

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