Not long after we moved to our current NJ apartment, I purchased my very own piano. Never having lived in an apartment building with a piano before, I was slightly worried what my neighbors would think, as the sound would surely carry to the apartment below and beside us. I put my shiny May Berlin in the spare bedroom where I would have my own music space to work in. Eddie and I insulated the wooden floor as best we could with foam and an area rug, and muffled the back of the piano to catch some of the sound.
I'll never forget sitting down at he keys. It was the moment I had been waiting for. I had my very own room, with a door, with privacy, to play and do whatever I wanted without inhibition. I chose to play the song "Turkish March" by Mozart, a song I learned in 8th grade and became so ingrained into my muscle memory that I can still play it to this day without ever glancing at the keyboard.
I hit that last, glorious A major chord and let the sound echo throughout my tiny room. Suddenly, my heart jumped with surprise, when I heard monstrous applause. It took a moment to register what was happening. Finally, I realized it was my neighbor directly on the other side of the wall, who I had not yet met. I could hear her clapping as clear as if she was sitting next to me. That's when I knew, no amount of insulation would help.
Later after introductions took place, my neighbor assured me that she not only didn't mind the piano, but she looked forward to it. When she hears me begin to practice, she goes to that room and listens. She turns her TV down. She sings along if she knows the music. She wants her children to begin piano lessons now. And when I see her outside she asks, "What are you going to play today?"
Despite the mistakes she no doubt hears me make over and over, and despite the fact that she's never been to a single performance of mine, she is one of my most faithful and enthusiastic fans. Her out of sight, solo applause has meant more to me over the months, than crowd full of clapping.