Musicians are often plagued by their living arrangement, particularly when they move from a sprawling private home to a pea size apartment. In my case, relocating to Berkeley, California from the steaming hot Central Valley where I occupied a two-story house, brought an impending dread of living beside a neighbor who would complain constantly about my daily piano practicing.
Without a doubt, I had good reason to harbor fears based upon my childhood experience in the Marble Hill Projects, Bronx, New York. An elderly man from Germany occupied the apartment below and yelled, “SHADDUP,”every time I laid hands on my wheezing Wieser upright. Simultaneously, he banged a hammer-like object against the ceiling. The onslaught should have ended my musical journey abruptly, but my love for the piano surmounted all obstacles.
Decades beyond such persistent invalidation, I’m now safely tucked into a one-bedroom Berkeley apartment where my Steinway grand takes up the lion’s share of space. But to my relief, a neighbor sharing a common wall named ART KINSEY has turned out to be an avid music lover, delighting in my practicing at all hours. You might say, he amiably tolerates my “wood shedding” much of the time, as I hack away, tackling new fingerings and complicated passages.
Feeling vulnerable and exposed in my early learning stages, I always brace myself when the landlord drops by to tend to the grounds. One day, he noticed a rough passage from Gershwin Prelude no. 2, and let me know in no uncertain terms, that he knew the score.
Naturally, in response, I cringed, went back to practicing, and recorded a better, ironed-out version that made its way through a posted YOU TUBE link to his Internet mailbox.
I can’t say Art Kinsey is as much an intensive eavesdropper and critic. He unconditionally accepts my baby-step advances and delights in my progress from pieced to piece. For him, my lingering “background music” is a constant joy.
What good fortune to be blessed with a piano-loving neighbor!
But more importantly, Art happens to be celebrating his ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY as owner/proprietor/Manager of the Northbrae Bottle Shop at 1590 Hopkins (cross street, Monterey) in Berkeley, California. It’s a great location, right smack in my neighborhood, on an upscale block quite near the famous Monterey Market.
Take NOTE: On Sunday March 16th, from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. Art will host a Store-wide Open House, serving FREE refreshments that include “corn beef sandwiches” that tie in with imminent St. Patrick’s Day festivities.
To add to the mix, Art’s mom, Karen, who’s visiting from Nevada City, California, will help prepare the big spread and assist with the event.
It’s an ANNIVERSARY FETE not be missed!
Art chatted with me about the Big Day, and also shared his personal thoughts about living next door to a pianist.