cat, El Cerrito, music, piano, piano teacher,, Shirley Kirsten, Uncategorized

My pedal protector, keyboard bracelet, and other Bay area favorites

My El Cerrito piano studio has a treasure trove of precious items, one of which is the infamous pedal protector that was previously mentioned in my blog, “A Piano Teacher’s Worst Nightmare.”

The invention, a rectangular prism of thick cardboard wrapped in masking tape and bolstered in styrofoam was measured precisely by “Fujie,” a gifted ceramic artist, to fit easily over my three pedals.







An adult piano student, she had more than once come to my rescue after an unruly student pounded, snapped and otherwise plundered the sustain pedal. The abuses spanning weeks, caused increased pedal motion and irregularity, driving me up the walls.

As usual, Fujie saved the day.

Not only had this very gifted woman made her own tofu (Tofujie) in her downtown Fresno factory, but she could design almost anything she set her mind to. Take for instance this gorgeous, meticulously made keyboard bracelet, one of my favorite things, that I’ve been wearing on my wrist all the time. You might say it’s my eternal good luck charm.

And this applies to Aiden, as well:

An even more impressive creation of Fujie’s, is this costume she designed for her two-year old, grandson, “Rider,” after he insisted on being a garbage truck for Halloween. Apparently, when the toddler went trick or treating, the word leaked out that parents along the route were so taken by the outfit, that they placed orders with Fujie into 2012. Now she has her hands full!

Certainly this truck will be Rider’s favorite thing for years to come. The photo will always be one of my mine.

Another treasured snapshot has Fujie’s grandson seated at her Kawai studio upright doing some tactile sound exploration.

He’s now been exposed to all the pieces his grandma has been studying with me including Kabalevsky’s “Clowns,” a colorful splash of major/minor transitions in quick tempo. He will someday be in the driver’s seat playing these compositions himself.

It seems that my list of prize possessions keeps growing. I particularly love the glass sculpted cello lamp that sits atop a Japanese style corner table in my Bay area piano studio. I purchased both these items at El Cerrito Lighting on San Pablo before the very unique establishment went out of business. The store had a bounty of merchandise that wooed me to its doors weekly. The eye-catching lamp provides a stream of dim light that creates a tranquil mood. The table it sits on, has its own special internal luminescence.

To the extreme right of the cello lamp is a magnificent music box in the shape of a piano, with mice inhabiting it.  A panoply of colors brightens the area.

The  Good Stuff Thrift Shop along San Pablo is where I found this item that plays a lovely version of Beethoven’s “Fur Elise.” All sales proceeds benefit the Association for Retarded Citizens. (ARC)

My tour de force Bay area acquisition is as expected, the Kawai grand piano, GE-20 model that I bought at DC Piano in Berkeley.  Though not a Steinway, it’s the next best thing, with its voluptuous singing tone and even touch across its keyboard.

The bench which accompanies the instrument is decorated by a beautiful cover given to me by “Joy,”one of my Fresno adult students.

It has to be the finishing touch to a room that enjoys a magnificent view of the El Cerrito Hills, from my privileged seat at the piano.

Who could want more?

2 thoughts on “My pedal protector, keyboard bracelet, and other Bay area favorites”

  1. Marvelous articles skillfully and colorfully composed and deeply felt. The improvisatory, or more accurately, free and lucid style is what Proust would have sounded like if he ever went out and became a journalist by trade . Only a great love of the art and passion for humanity could feed the perseverance of this generous soul as she encounters parernts and children who seem unable to recognize and appreciate the gold offered by this dedicated teacher. Those with the ability to perceive the value of the gift frequently offer their own. Note the wonderful keyboard bracelet and garbage truck concoction and the beautiful bench slipcover. This blog and its creator are rare treasures.


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