>> Wednesday, 3 September 2014
Here's a very middle-class statement for you: we had the piano tuned recently - as you do.
Apparently this is a yearly necessity here in Moscow, where the central heating and dry atmosphere play havoc with most wood-based instruments*. Given that in addition to these problems it was manhandled to a different room - twice - over the summer, left unattended in a houseful of workmen for 6 weeks (more of which another time), and that the humidifier Boy #2's piano teacher recommended we buy to keep it in good condition has been sitting in a cupboard after I used it for a week only to realise it was making everything in the room damp (go figure), my hopes for a speedy visit from the piano tuner were not high.
Natalya** the Piano Teacher had assured me that we should probably expect the tuner to need to stay for at least an hour and a half, perhaps longer, so I told Husband - who was the one due to be in the house at the time - to Be Prepared.
However, the Tuner was in and out in around half an hour, and even passed on to Natalya how impressed he'd been by the state the piano was in (he had been the person who originally tuned it for us after it was delivered a year ago). She herself was surprised, and wondered why that was.
Oh, that's easy, I told her. It's because of the heating. You know how you, Natalya, are always complaining that our house is too cold in the winter? (We keep it at around 20degC; warmer than the 18degC my parents used to set their thermostat to when I was growing up in a draughty and badly-insulated but completely charming mill house, but significantly cooler than the at least 24 - 25degC most Russians favour in winter). Yes... she answered, perhaps knowing what was coming next. Well, that's why the piano is in better condition than expected, I continued. Because it's not subjected to such extremes of temperature.
Interesting, answered Natalya. You might have something there.
Of course, neither of us mentioned what we both knew was the real reason for the piano's relative tunefulness.
Outside of his hour-long lessons, Boy #2 does a grand total of 20 minutes practice a week (and even that is an improvement on his previous record).
Of course it wasn't out of tune; the damn thing hardly ever gets played...
*and, fyi, furniture. If you're considering moving to Moscow, leave your much-loved antiques and inherited tables etc back home. Yet another reason why Ikea is the decorative choice of so many expats here...
** Not her real name, which is at least as Russian as that, if not more so