Book Review: Piano Lessons by Anna Goldsworthy

Gee, what a good book!  I love a memoir.

“It was my grandfather who found her.  He pronounced her name with an extravagant
French accent that spoke of her mystery, her glamour.
Mrs. Siv-an.”

And so begins a good romp through Anna’s piano lessons from age nine to young adulthood.

Mrs. Sivan teaches with great drama, never coddling young Anna—always inspiring her
to look within for the music.   And to give away the music, as a gift to the audience.  Mrs.
Sivan talks and talks and talks in her stilted Russian accents, trying to, herself, give away to Anna all that she knows and understands about music from her own life’s study.

“Mozart is opera; Beethoven always orchestra.”

“Czerny basically created the bridge from classic, and to romantic.”

“Schubert never sentimental.  No way!”

“Chopin–the B-flat Minor Sonata–basically Chopin’s requiem for himself . . .”

Anna practices.  And as the years go by Anna really practices—for hours and hours each

Mrs. Sivan has told her that there are three kinds of pianists: those who practice a lot and admit it;  those who practice a lot but deny it;  and those who do not practice and, therefore, are not pianists.

I loved reading this book and following Anna’s progress through various composers with Mrs. Sivan’s dialogue right alongside.   The background setting of Australia was of added interest as Anna grows up, comparing her teen years with my own in the U.S.

I never became an advanced piano student as Anna did, but I can still remember the feeling of going to my own lessons, with my own dear Mrs. Wilson, a drama queen in her own way, and the uplifting feeling of being assigned a new piece—learning about the real world of music.

Looking at the cover of this book brings sweet memories–those old yellow music books . . .

I recommend this book to anyone who has ever taken a piano lesson—or who would like to begin!


You already know me---I'm in your book club. I've been in your book club in Wisconsin, in New York, in Missouri, in Connecticut. Now I'm in your book club in Pennsylvania. I love books! (I also collect buttons!) I'm looking forward to having conversations about books with people just like you----who also love books and want to talk about them. Send me an email: booksandbooks (at) me about a book you are reading. (or buttons of interest)
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