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"Why We Play" is an introspective and yet powerfully realistic look into our motivations for creating music at the piano, as well as gentle guidance for the beginner and even the seasoned professional as to which instrument might serve them best, from technical ease to textural and dynamic response. I remember just a few years back, I was shopping for a new piano, looking for that ephemeral, inexplicable "something" that would release my inner voice on the piano of my dreams. When the salesperson asked what exactly it was that I wanted in a piano, I said flippantly, "I just drive 'em. I don't know what goes on under the hood. I want something that drives like a Ferrari." And, consequently, every piano I wound up with behaved more like a car than a musical instrument. I mean, I've been playing for sixty years, but until I read Ben's priceless slim volume, I thought pianos were something like motor cars. A bit of oil and a tune-up, and I'd take the race.

Of course, I'm exaggerating my ignorance, but only slightly. Ben Klinger's book "Why We Play" touches on issues of the heart. We're not shopping for inanimate, inorganic machinery when we search for a literal extension to our soul in a piano store. We're seeking the path to our own and other's enlightenment. We're pushing through the banality of the day-to-day world into the Heart of Darkness, looking for the Enigmatic and Ethereal Answer. I can't speak for others, but for myself, piano stores are dark even during the day - or they seem that way - because we're entering a part of our subconscious life that needs liberation and atonement and being surrounded by so many instruments of self-redemption seems like a descent into our very selves. We want to touch that key, and we want the air to sing in response. A magical event is what we seek. Anything less is simply not enough. When children touch such an expressive magical box, it has the power to change their lives forever. When masters find such a responsive element of wonder, they become children.

In my sixth decade of living my life and playing my music, I still seek that perfect savant to my will, that perfect familiar to my artistic intention. I've traveled the world and played many agreeable and even magnificent pianos, but I've had to say goodbye to each of them them when the concert ended. It was always a quiet and personal sadness, unshared. Now, having cleared a new path for my life's explorations, I intend to continue the search with renewed vigor. Ben has been my friend, my collaborator, and the facilitator of many of my musical dreams. His book has inspired me once again to push through the foliage, to find the secret path, enter the Temple, and to come upon that Grail that I still seek. MY piano.

~ Jessica Williams
Pianist and Jazz Great

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