I made a very nice lady cry today.
This evening I was evaluating a beautifully restored and refinished 1940 Chickering & Sons baby grand. It resided in a gorgeous music room in a stunning home located in an upscale suburb north of Detroit. The Chickering was a striking satin walnut finish and was actually almost delicate looking standing on its narrow legs. It had a thin, low single lid prop, a pleasingly carved music rack, and a bench with a dark green upholstered top. It stood in the middle of the room, lit by sunlight coming through gigantic lead glass windows and from above by a crystal chandelier.
My clients were interested in purchasing the piano along with the home. They wanted me to evaluate it's condition and give them an idea as to what it was worth.
After making my initial observations on the case and structure of the piano, and before completely disassembling the fall-board to get at the action, I had to give it a test drive. When I do this, I basically just play a random medley of a bunch of tunes in a bunch of keys (and throw in some scales and arpeggios) for approximately 5-10 minutes. I use the whole instrument and really try to see how it responds dynamically and tonally. The entire time I'm just intensely concentrating on analyzing "how does this beast do what it is was made to do".
I'm not trying to give a concert. I'm far more concerned with how I'm playing than what I'm playing.
After I finished making and recording my observations, I began to dismantle the case in order to pull the action.
In the next room I heard the lady who owned the piano and home talking quietly with my client. Apparently at one point during the random medley of test tunes I had played "Somewhere Over the Rainbow".
As she listened to my arrangement of the tune she began flashing back through the 40 years that she and her husband had raised their family in that beautiful home.
It was such an emotional moment that she had burst into tears.