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Anna Goldsworthy was nine years old when she met Eleanora Sivan, the charismatic Russian emigre and world-class pianist who became her piano teacher. Piano Lessons is the story of what Mrs. Sivan brought to Anna's lessons: a love of music, a respect for life, a generous spirit, and the courage to embrace a musical life. Beautifully written and strikingly honest, Piano Lesso Anna Goldsworthy was nine years old when she met Eleanora Sivan, the charismatic Russian emigre and world-class pianist who became her piano teacher. Piano Lessons is the story of what Mrs. Sivan brought to Anna's lessons: a love of music, a respect for life, a generous spirit, and the courage to embrace a musical life. Beautifully written and strikingly honest, Piano Lessons takes the reader on a journey into the heart and meaning of music. As Anna discovers passion and ambition, confronts doubt and disappointment, and learns about much more than tone and technique, Mrs. Sivan's wisdom guides her: "We are not teaching piano playing. We are teaching philosophy and life and music digested." "What is intuition? Knowledge that has come inside." "My darling, we must sit and work." Piano Lessons reminds us all how an extraordinary teacher can change a life completely. A work that will appeal to all music lovers and anyone who has ever taken a music lesson, Piano Lessons will also touch the heart of anyone who has ever loved a teacher.


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Anna Goldsworthy was nine years old when she met Eleanora Sivan, the charismatic Russian emigre and world-class pianist who became her piano teacher. Piano Lessons is the story of what Mrs. Sivan brought to Anna's lessons: a love of music, a respect for life, a generous spirit, and the courage to embrace a musical life. Beautifully written and strikingly honest, Piano Lesso Anna Goldsworthy was nine years old when she met Eleanora Sivan, the charismatic Russian emigre and world-class pianist who became her piano teacher. Piano Lessons is the story of what Mrs. Sivan brought to Anna's lessons: a love of music, a respect for life, a generous spirit, and the courage to embrace a musical life. Beautifully written and strikingly honest, Piano Lessons takes the reader on a journey into the heart and meaning of music. As Anna discovers passion and ambition, confronts doubt and disappointment, and learns about much more than tone and technique, Mrs. Sivan's wisdom guides her: "We are not teaching piano playing. We are teaching philosophy and life and music digested." "What is intuition? Knowledge that has come inside." "My darling, we must sit and work." Piano Lessons reminds us all how an extraordinary teacher can change a life completely. A work that will appeal to all music lovers and anyone who has ever taken a music lesson, Piano Lessons will also touch the heart of anyone who has ever loved a teacher.

30 review for Piano Lessons

  1. 4 out of 5

    C.

    I have played a lot of music in my life - for fifteen of my first nineteen years I was towed off to multiple music lessons, made to practise nightly, coerced into joining consorts, ensembles, orchestras, quartets, choirs. At my peak I played four instruments competently to well (no longer, but that's another story), and there were people who said I had talent, though frankly I had no interest in developing it. Nonetheless, I had no idea there was as much to music as there is in this book. The wa I have played a lot of music in my life - for fifteen of my first nineteen years I was towed off to multiple music lessons, made to practise nightly, coerced into joining consorts, ensembles, orchestras, quartets, choirs. At my peak I played four instruments competently to well (no longer, but that's another story), and there were people who said I had talent, though frankly I had no interest in developing it. Nonetheless, I had no idea there was as much to music as there is in this book. The way Goldsworthy describes it is on a level way, way beyond anything I have even imagined. I realise now that even when I thought I was at my absolute best, I was just playing notes. This is good; I want to try again, now. Now, on to the bad things: her writing was kind of shit. "My new chiffon concert dress had seemed to have transformative powers when my mother bought it for me but now, as the spring breeze pressed it against my breasts and between my legs, it felt flimsy, as if I were approaching the stage naked." Lyrical, inexperienced crap, for the most part. However, it didn't spoil the story! My other problem leaves me confused. Anna Goldsworthy is right in that sweet spot where I know her, but don't know her. I've probably addressed two or three sentences to her in my life. I know her uncle, aunt and two cousins fairly well, but although I see her around a lot, she barely even qualifies as an acquaintance. For some reason, reading a memoir written by someone with whom I have this particular degree of intimacy made me ask a question that I don't usually ask of memoir writers: why? What makes a person believe that the world needs to know their story? She's only in her thirties; isn't she a bit young? Does she really think that the bulk of the important things that are going to happen to her have already happened? Here's a potted summary of Goldsworthy's life. She grew up in suburban Adelaide as the daughter of a fairly well-known Australian author (Peter Goldsworthy), started playing the piano at age - I think - 9, started learning from a really excellent teacher at about the same age, won a scholarship to Pembroke, a prestigious private school, at age 12 or so, had a fairly stunning high school experience (at least from the outside): prefect, academic prizes all over the place, etc., etc. She struggled with the usual psychological barriers that musicians do, but ended up becoming a concert pianist, as she had always wanted. So there are a few things that confuse me here. Being afraid of societal censure, I myself would never ever announce anything I had achieved (in a, coughcough, hypothetical situation in which I had achieved something worthwhile) to the world in this way. I would be afraid of being called big-headed, full of myself, I would be afraid of the looks on the street, of the thoughts beneath the polite masks turned my way. I can't understand how anyone can overcome the modesty that is beaten into us from a young age to write about what they have done in such a frank way. Why did she do it? What does it take? An enormous ego combined with a generous dash of arrogance? A desperate hunger to prove oneself, to show the world that they were wrong? A disregard, or maybe contempt, for the tall poppy syndrome that so heavily marks our culture? I don't know Anna well enough to say. The thing is, her life isn't that amazing. Certainly, her academic results are impressive - pretty much 100% success rate in everything she has done. Medals, prizes, the lot. Her musical accomplishments are no less stunning. But, but, but... what is remarkable? She grew up in privilege. Nothing she achieved was done against great odds. Her account of being a scholarship kid from the 'wrong suburb' at her expensive private school was unconvincing. But maybe only because it didn't agree with my own experiences... I sense that my problems with this book are more problems with myself. My delicate little petit bourgois sensibilities are confused by someone putting themselves out there, going against the grain. I am made uncomfortable by someone defying the laws of propriety. On some level, I believe that the advantages with which I have been born make anything I do less worthwhile. Like many people, especially those who love reading, I have often wanted to be a writer, or at least to write. But the terror I have of people actually (gasp) reading what I write, and then (O, the horror!) judging it on its merits has always been a stumbling block. Not the only stumbling block, let me assure you. Like, I hope, many other people, I want the glory of being able to call myself a 'writer' without having to reveal my secret self to the world (even fiction feels like the revelation of the deepest of secrets), and perhaps more importantly, without having to do any actual work. I think I've been brought up never to think that my achievements are worth anything, even if they are. Often this is a conscious effort on my part, to stay humble and to keep working harder. Is it possible, conceivable, that this is a form of cowardice? I admore Anna for doing something that for me would have taken a huge amount of courage, but I'm still confused. Does it require courage for everyone, or is it just me? ___________________________________ Looks uninteresting - who wants to read about overachievers achieving stuff? Not me. But have to read it. Also, 'twas written by my neighbour's niece. Um, yay.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I don’t usually read memoirs, but Anna Goldworthy’s Piano Lessons attracted me from the moment I first heard about it. When I was a little girl I had wanted to be a pianist and a writer: Goldsworthy is both and I wanted to know how she did it… It wasn’t just talent, though she has it (and I never did). It wasn’t just hours of dedicated practice, though she realised long before I did that desultory efforts with the piano are not enough for success. Her story traces the elusive path of dreams and a I don’t usually read memoirs, but Anna Goldworthy’s Piano Lessons attracted me from the moment I first heard about it. When I was a little girl I had wanted to be a pianist and a writer: Goldsworthy is both and I wanted to know how she did it… It wasn’t just talent, though she has it (and I never did). It wasn’t just hours of dedicated practice, though she realised long before I did that desultory efforts with the piano are not enough for success. Her story traces the elusive path of dreams and ambition, and it reveals a steely determination to achieve a succession of personal goals that would leave any life coach breathless in her wake. Gifted in every way, Goldsworthy set herself one target after another: academically, a scholarship to Pembroke, top marks and dux of school; musically, mastering a progression of composers, collecting A+ exam results, prizes in performance and a scholarship to the Texan Christian University. She tells this story with honesty and self-deprecating humour, sharing her earnest adolescent efforts to be like the other girls, her ineptitude behind the wheel of a car, and the compulsive thought processes that guide her through the terrors of rehearsal and performance. To read the rest of my review see http://anzlitlovers.wordpress.com/200...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Moon

    I loved this book. It gave me valuable insights into music teaching and learning and enhanced my pleasure in listening and playing. The relationship between Anna and her Russian emigre music teacher is central and I greatly enjoyed the warmth and humour Anna brought to the description of their long lessons. At the core of the book is the relationship Anna develops with herself. Her need to excel in every endeavour yields rich prizes in the form of scholarships and opportunities to join the ranks I loved this book. It gave me valuable insights into music teaching and learning and enhanced my pleasure in listening and playing. The relationship between Anna and her Russian emigre music teacher is central and I greatly enjoyed the warmth and humour Anna brought to the description of their long lessons. At the core of the book is the relationship Anna develops with herself. Her need to excel in every endeavour yields rich prizes in the form of scholarships and opportunities to join the ranks of world famous performers. It is an elite club and here we see the dedication required to join. Her ambition started early and focussed through her secondary school years. When Anna received perfect scores in her final year of school, even her father, her most ardent support, is a little unnerved. The music brings joy to what might otherwise be a somewhat off putting story of tough discipline. I will re-read this book for the insights into the music and the stories about the composers

  4. 5 out of 5

    Gretchen

    Dear Mrs Miller: Thank you for taking on a gangly, awkward 14yo, and helping me to find my voice. 25 years later, I still get comments on what a great high school choir director I had. My response is that I did, but more than that, I had a great personal mentor. I miss you, and wish I had been able to say thank you before you left us. Piano Lessons is Anna Goldsworthy's thank you letter to her teacher, Elenora Sivan. We meet them both when Anna is 9, and has her first encounter with her new piano Dear Mrs Miller: Thank you for taking on a gangly, awkward 14yo, and helping me to find my voice. 25 years later, I still get comments on what a great high school choir director I had. My response is that I did, but more than that, I had a great personal mentor. I miss you, and wish I had been able to say thank you before you left us. Piano Lessons is Anna Goldsworthy's thank you letter to her teacher, Elenora Sivan. We meet them both when Anna is 9, and has her first encounter with her new piano instructor. Mrs. Sivan is demanding, and focuses Anna on going beyond the notes. She introduces Anna to Mozart, Chopin, Liszt, etc, by explaining not just the passages, but how to convey the personality and the intent of the composers. Through her lessons, Anna comes to know the composers and how to find the moments when she can go beyond the music and into expression. The story is also about Anna's development as a person. A high achiever, she is challenged by music. She may be able to achieve high math scores, but she's told early on that she probably won't make it as a musician. That leads her into a tough combination of dedication and superstition. She isolates herself from friends and social activities, convinced that if she practices that extra hour, or two, or seven, she'll win the competition, or be able to perform in concert. It's a very honest look at the internal motivation that can happen for a high achieving person -- she doesn't perceive the work as a sacrifice, but she also is very afraid that she might fail and disappoint her family, and her beloved teacher. The story falters a bit as Anna gets older. I think it's difficult to convey the relationship transition from teacher/student to mentor/guide. Also there is less focus on the interpretation of music, and more on Anna's choices as she pursues a career in music. These sections limit an otherwise strong book. For anyone who grew up in music, especially those who had a strong bond with their teacher, this book will have many moments that ring true. Mrs Sivan's fractured english constructions and her love for the piano create a dynamic picture of a passionate, demanding, yet caring instructor, who challenges her student to reach great heights. Recommended for musicians and music lovers.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rosemary

    Absolutely delightful story of a magnificient piano teacher, but also a determined, almost(?) obsessive student growing up into a fine musician, a concert pianist.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jean Smith

    This book takes the reader on a musical journey with both pupil and teacher. It begins with Anna as a nine year old dreaming of becoming a concert pianist. Her teacher is Mrs Sivan who came to Australia from Russia after the war. The two have a wonderful relationship with all of Anna’s doubts and anxieties coming to the fore. It it is very well written with plenty of humour. Even if you are not particularly musically minded I would still recommend this book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Helen O'Toole

    Probably best suited to those lucky people who can actually play the piano but I did enjoy the amazing piano teacher, Mrs Sivan and the joy she imparted to Little Anna. I loved the coda at the end which was poignant and real.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Susan L.

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. As someone who used to play the piano (although never professionally) and who is always interested in memoirs that chronicle the growth of an artist, I enjoyed this a lot. I've read lots of autobiographies written by writers, artists, athletes, dancers, and actors, but I think this was my first in terms of classical musicians. It was definitely fascinating to get an inside look at the world of young concert pianists (not unlike that of elite athletes, interestingly). I was reminded of the YA nov As someone who used to play the piano (although never professionally) and who is always interested in memoirs that chronicle the growth of an artist, I enjoyed this a lot. I've read lots of autobiographies written by writers, artists, athletes, dancers, and actors, but I think this was my first in terms of classical musicians. It was definitely fascinating to get an inside look at the world of young concert pianists (not unlike that of elite athletes, interestingly). I was reminded of the YA novel Broken Chords by Barbara Snow Gilbert, but I don't think I really thought about how much time and practice these musicians put into their art at such a young age. I loved how the sections were titled with the different composers that Anna was studying at the time. She seemed to be exhibiting serious textbook signs of OCD throughout the first half of the memoir and I was surprised that it was never brought up. I haven't done too much research on her so I don't know if she was ever diagnosed with the disorder, but it seemed to fade as she got older so maybe it was just overblown perfectionism? Either way, I liked how she focused on the lessons while still mentioning her school life and not wanting to be a "square" but still choosing piano. Her teacher had a very distinctive voice and is obviously a huge force in the memoir, but I felt like their close relationship could have been explored more, and the epilogue would have been more powerful. I kind of felt that at the end, their "complex bond" (as the back cover says) was supposed to be the core of the book, but that the beginning didn't quite deliver. Overall, it was a great memoir. And her father's novels sound very interesting, I plan to try one! Grade: B

  9. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    My anticipation was great before I opened the book and as I read through the storyline I found many parts of it boring but I drudged through it hoping that events would be interesting. For some reason unable to to have any like for Anna the pianist. At first I wanted to sympathize with her because it seemed her parents sorta pushed her into playing piano. Her desire was to sing professionally but I think that was just a child's dream as it seemed she did not possess talent in that musical endeav My anticipation was great before I opened the book and as I read through the storyline I found many parts of it boring but I drudged through it hoping that events would be interesting. For some reason unable to to have any like for Anna the pianist. At first I wanted to sympathize with her because it seemed her parents sorta pushed her into playing piano. Her desire was to sing professionally but I think that was just a child's dream as it seemed she did not possess talent in that musical endeavor. Her piano teacher, Eleanor Sivan I did like - she was passionate, colorful and enthusiastic (wished I had her as a piano teacher instead of the quiet lady who taught me for a short bit). What annoyed me was Anna repeatedly mentioned her parents were doctors and I didn't see the point for that? Nor did it assist with the storyline. I only gave this book 1 star.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Davison

    I recommend reading this after reading Peter Goldsworthy's Maestro. Anna Goldsworthy's piano teacher Mrs Silvan was the inspiration for Herr Keller in Maestro. The wisdom and passion of this Russian emigre were, in Anna Goldsworthy's words, cannibalised by her father to craft his wonderful book. Piano Lessons is possibly most interesting to those who've tried to master a musical instrument, it might be a bit hard going for those who haven't struggled with trying to 'translate and interpret' musi I recommend reading this after reading Peter Goldsworthy's Maestro. Anna Goldsworthy's piano teacher Mrs Silvan was the inspiration for Herr Keller in Maestro. The wisdom and passion of this Russian emigre were, in Anna Goldsworthy's words, cannibalised by her father to craft his wonderful book. Piano Lessons is possibly most interesting to those who've tried to master a musical instrument, it might be a bit hard going for those who haven't struggled with trying to 'translate and interpret' music. I loved reading this so shortly after Julian Barnes' Shostakovich tribute The Noise of Time.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

    Quite repetitive but perhaps if you are a pianist you would think otherwise. Lovely portrayal of a strong musical influence in Anna's life and lessons that can be taken outside of a musical context. Quite repetitive but perhaps if you are a pianist you would think otherwise. Lovely portrayal of a strong musical influence in Anna's life and lessons that can be taken outside of a musical context.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I found this a compelling read, mostly due to Goldworthy's evocative style of writing about her experience of playing and her characterisation of Mrs Sivan just leaps off the page and draws you in. I found this a compelling read, mostly due to Goldworthy's evocative style of writing about her experience of playing and her characterisation of Mrs Sivan just leaps off the page and draws you in.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Theresa

    A gorgeous memoir about the relationship between a huge overachiever and her piano teacher.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Fran

    Piano Lessons Author: Anna Goldsworthy Reviewed By Fran Lewis Memoirs are really quite unique as they reflect the inner most thoughts of the person writing them as they create a world for the reader comprised of their most memorable moments, important events and their passions shared. Anna Goldsworthy’s world at an early age was her love of the piano, music and pleasing her family. Striving for acceptance and hoping that she would be the best at a young age she dedicated her life to the piano, the Piano Lessons Author: Anna Goldsworthy Reviewed By Fran Lewis Memoirs are really quite unique as they reflect the inner most thoughts of the person writing them as they create a world for the reader comprised of their most memorable moments, important events and their passions shared. Anna Goldsworthy’s world at an early age was her love of the piano, music and pleasing her family. Striving for acceptance and hoping that she would be the best at a young age she dedicated her life to the piano, the music and becoming one in the same with her keyboard. Playing the piano and feeling the emotions evoked by the composition, the message that the composer is relating to the pianist and interpreting and presenting it listeners requires more than just a basic understanding of the piano, the composition and the composer. Eleonora Sivan was the woman who would change her world, open up her eyes and teach her to become the concert pianist and artist she is today. Sit back, close your eyes, and listen to the sounds, as music Bach, Beethoven, Chopin and many others will fill the pages of this outstanding memoir we can hear the concertos, the sonatas and the sympathies as we learn what how one young woman strives for success from the beginning. Auditioning for Mrs. Sivan with her Mozart Sonata the first movement, she hopes to not only make a positive impression but also make her grandfather and mother proud. Little does she learn until later that her performance was not quite up to par and the teacher felt a definite need to help this student whose skills were definitely as she states, “ ill equipped.” Eleanora Sivan required more than just sitting at the piano when a student was taking a lesson or playing during a concert. Anna Goldsworthy, although only 9 when she began her lessons with Sivan, entered the same world as adults, high school students and Mrs. Sivan to become a concert pianist, child prodigy of the magnitude required not only by others but for herself as well. Anna’s journey began with five minutes of practice required by her former instructor whose standards did not mark those of Mrs. Sivan. Increased to 2 hours of practice daily as a more realistic regime for a serious music student, would she rise to what was expected of her? The memoir related her personal musical journey to reach the heights needed when studying under such a devoted and dedicated teacher. It is truly a testament to herself and to Mrs. Sivan. They story is centered in Australia from her first meeting with Mrs. Sivan to her enlightenment when taking her first lesson. Eye opening, illuminating and definitely at times deflating for Anna. As Sivan explains the first steps required before placing her fingers on the notes or even beginning to play. Sivan explains, “The fingers are the orchestra musicians.” Anna needed to learn how to sit, finger, position and place her hands before beginning. “ You are playing not listening, you have to hear a sound- hearing the sound creates our imagination and then relax.” Understanding the sound, strong fingers the hands speak as Sivan explains. The breakthrough came when she was asked to create a story for Mozart’s second movement in one of his Sonata’s. Sivan had a difficult childhood and by having her students create a story within the music she hoped to regain much or some of what she lost when growing up. Each chapter the author introduces the reader to a different composer and artist. In each chapter we learn the history of the artist, become familiar with his music and hear it when Anna plays throughout the entire book. From taking the Third Grade exam to receiving high marks to the disappointments within herself when she did not receive the accolades she wanted this is one interesting memoir that helps students of music, or in any field understand the dedication and fortitude needed to rise above the rest and reach your own ultimate goals. Her technique could not be beautified as she struggled to find the correct sound, the correct inner emotion to present her music to the world. But, one question rang loud and true in her mind, “ Did she want to be acclaimed for her piano performances?” As Sivan elaborates and explains to Anna that pianism has to be completely out of your inner emotion. Playing the piano is a projection of your inner emotion.” Not an easy concept for most adults to grasp no less a nine year old. ` Entering Pembroke, hoping to gain some popularity, told she would not be a concert pianist, still attending her lessons and learning more about the many composers, their uniqueness their special message conveyed in their music is part of what kept Anna focused. A family totally devoted to her, to helping her form her future yet allowing her make her own decisions, Anna began to try and find her own way yet there was much more to learn. Accolades and academic awards were great but the real recognition for her music and who she was has yet to come as Mrs. Sivan has much more to teach her many more understandings to impart and lessons that still have not been taught not just to her but others too. Reading about the piano, learning about the mysteries of it and not always playing the notes or practicing might have helped her gain a better perspective. From wanting to be like the other girls to having a father who guided her much of the way taking copious notes at every lesson in order to help her not only write this memoir but understand what she needed to do to improve and learn, Anna’s childhood seemed quite structured, pronounced with organization and even her own brand of self discipline. At times I was hoping that she would just have some real fun and doing something silly like any child or teen would. She was serious about her education, followed the rules wherever she went and rarely spoke out in her own defense against friends or adults. Even the great composers spoke out, rebelled against the times and created their own voice or inner most personality in their music. Many people can define freedom in many ways, as you will learn from reading this memoir and the many definitions related. But, the greatest joy is freedom in your music, as the sounds beckon you and you enter a special world only you can understand and hear. Then, I decided to hear and listen for myself as I closed my eyes and listened to the author play a Chopin Nocturne and then watched this time seeing the emotional connection in her hands, face and entire being when did more than play the Nocturne she told her own magical story. Hearing Helen Warner tell how she launched the book and the author in a video called Piano Lessons Behind the Scenes you begin to understand more about the memoir, her relationship with Mrs. Sivan and her family. Her eighth grade exam proved an eye opener, disappointment and for most young girls, but not Anna a defeat. As the examiner, an organist did not appreciate her program and her Mozart but what follows will show you what happens when her resolve comes through, her determination to succeed wins and her five years with Mrs. Sivan would continue on to many more. Freedom in her music but not in her own life as Anna became more determined to focus on her music, her practicing and as Mrs. Sivan stated more secure. So focused on her music that it seemed she lost sight of her herself, her friends and everything else teens were into. Did she want to remain are prefect, would she ever speak her mind or was the piano her only voice? The many disappointments, her family dynamics changing the concerts she played for and the awards she one but one thing remains constant is her loyalty and love for Mrs. Sivan who has inspired, taught and loved so many musicians and who more than just enriched Anna’s life. Emergencies, accidents, concerts, fear of losing someone close and one young woman who would never give up on her music, the composers, the freedom it brought her and the Piano: Who chose her. This is one memoir that all music students should read, those serious about becoming musicians and for everyone that wants to learn more about Mozart, Chopin my favorite, Liszt and so many others. Where is she now and what is our author doing? Read the memoir. Hear her voice and hear the music. But: only bit by bit. Written from the heart and told in her own voice as the reader learns just how powerful music can be in someone’s life and how words are not the only form of expression. Fran Lewis: Reviewer

  15. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Wong

    Anna Goldsworthy is a well known pianist in my city so I have been lucky enough to see her perform a few times. My friend Kirsten (herself a gifted pianist and music therapist) leant me this book, Goldsworthy's autobiography of her childhood and adolescence. It charts the story of her journey to becoming a concert pianist with the help of her eccentric Russian piano teacher. A lot of the story resonated with me. I also grew up in the same part of the world, my childhood home was also filled with Anna Goldsworthy is a well known pianist in my city so I have been lucky enough to see her perform a few times. My friend Kirsten (herself a gifted pianist and music therapist) leant me this book, Goldsworthy's autobiography of her childhood and adolescence. It charts the story of her journey to becoming a concert pianist with the help of her eccentric Russian piano teacher. A lot of the story resonated with me. I also grew up in the same part of the world, my childhood home was also filled with music (my mum's a piano teacher), and I also had a lively middle-aged Russian woman who taught me piano. Of course I lacked the talent to become anything more than an amateur. Goldsworthy didn't just have natural abilities, though. After a setback at a competition at an early age she resolved to practice 4 hours each day (on top of the demands of completing high school) and from this point she became more and more successful. For me perhaps the most inspiring tiny sub-plot however is her grandfather who (like me perhaps) had learnt piano at a young age but not to a high level, however in his retirement took up practicing again and for a while at least was able to keep up with the younger Goldsworthy's progress herself.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rita Chapman

    This memoir by Australian Anna Goldsworthy tells of the path she followed to become a concert pianist. It is a touching insight into a rare method of teaching by her tutor, Mrs Sivan who, as the years go by, also becomes her life mentor and great friend. Eleanora Sivan teaches her not only the technical aspects of the piano but how to listen to the music, to hear what it is saying to you, to understand what the composer was trying to convey and then to play from the heart. In some ways it is mor This memoir by Australian Anna Goldsworthy tells of the path she followed to become a concert pianist. It is a touching insight into a rare method of teaching by her tutor, Mrs Sivan who, as the years go by, also becomes her life mentor and great friend. Eleanora Sivan teaches her not only the technical aspects of the piano but how to listen to the music, to hear what it is saying to you, to understand what the composer was trying to convey and then to play from the heart. In some ways it is more of a tribute to Mrs Sivan than to the author and there seems no doubt that she was a truly remarkable woman and teacher. The tenacity of Anna to absorb these teachings and to achieve her dream of becoming a great concert pianist as well as playing with the SeraphimTrio, is conveyed in the hours and hours of practice she undertakes and her ability to play pieces in her mind whilst she is away from a piano. I am sure that she, in turn, has also become a great teacher. A must-read for anyone who thinks they understand music.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mrs J.M. Craven

    I find myself at odds with many other reviewers, as I found this to be a fascinating book on a number of levels. It is a very interesting and candid account of a girl's growing up, in South Australia in the 80s and 90s, and reveals much about culture, education, opportunity and friendship. The main focus of the book is the evolving relationship between Anna Goldsworthy and her Russian émigrée piano teacher, Mrs Sivan, who had in fact been a child during the Siege of Leningrad, and had been raise I find myself at odds with many other reviewers, as I found this to be a fascinating book on a number of levels. It is a very interesting and candid account of a girl's growing up, in South Australia in the 80s and 90s, and reveals much about culture, education, opportunity and friendship. The main focus of the book is the evolving relationship between Anna Goldsworthy and her Russian émigrée piano teacher, Mrs Sivan, who had in fact been a child during the Siege of Leningrad, and had been raised under the rigorous Soviet system of pianistic education. The descriptions of lessons and conversations between teacher and pupil, about the nature of music, piano playing, communication and indeed, life itself, are quite remarkable. The book is well-written and I highly recommend it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kim Harris

    As an amateur advanced pianist myself, I can identify with a great deal of the content of this engaging book. It may seem a somewhat esoteric subject but it is engrossing and I read it remarkably quickly. The character of the young pianist, Anna Goldsworthy, is developed as she develops as a young woman and as a very successful pianist. Her doubts and struggles are all too easy to identify with but they are assuaged by her brilliant and insightful teacher, Eleanora Sivan. The style of this autob As an amateur advanced pianist myself, I can identify with a great deal of the content of this engaging book. It may seem a somewhat esoteric subject but it is engrossing and I read it remarkably quickly. The character of the young pianist, Anna Goldsworthy, is developed as she develops as a young woman and as a very successful pianist. Her doubts and struggles are all too easy to identify with but they are assuaged by her brilliant and insightful teacher, Eleanora Sivan. The style of this autobiography is very easy to engage with and even if you are not a pianist, you will still feel for the protagonist as many of her travails are applicable to any endeavour in life. I thoroughly recommend this book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Muphyn

    Not the most engaging of memoirs about growing up playing piano and becoming a concert pianist. I liked the Australian context and the interspersion of classical piano pieces at the start/end of every chapter but that's about where it ended. I learned piano from a Russian teacher myself so felt drawn to that part of the narrative but most of the story and dialogues felt a bit forced and aloof. And as (almost) always, authors should not read their own books, narrating a book is not as easy as it ma Not the most engaging of memoirs about growing up playing piano and becoming a concert pianist. I liked the Australian context and the interspersion of classical piano pieces at the start/end of every chapter but that's about where it ended. I learned piano from a Russian teacher myself so felt drawn to that part of the narrative but most of the story and dialogues felt a bit forced and aloof. And as (almost) always, authors should not read their own books, narrating a book is not as easy as it may sound and does actually require some talent for emphasis, pacing and accents. (I especially disliked Goldsworthy imitation of her Russian piano teacher - it is not as simple as dropping all articles in her speech and making her speech pace really fast, sigh.)

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lynne

    Using exquisite language, Anna Goldsworthy describes the relationship over a number of years between her and her piano teacher. I was amazed at her ability to recall so many details of the conversations, but this woman was a truly remarkable person who went far beyond the teaching of notes and technique to open up a wonderful world of interpretation. I listened to the audio book, read by the author herself, which gave additional insight into the influence of this relationship and I came away fee Using exquisite language, Anna Goldsworthy describes the relationship over a number of years between her and her piano teacher. I was amazed at her ability to recall so many details of the conversations, but this woman was a truly remarkable person who went far beyond the teaching of notes and technique to open up a wonderful world of interpretation. I listened to the audio book, read by the author herself, which gave additional insight into the influence of this relationship and I came away feeling that it should be required reading for all serious students of the piano, as well as any who would seek to become music teachers.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    I studied piano for 12 years, and gave it all up to be a terrible saxophonist. But I hold a very soft spot in my heart for piano and one day will own one again. This is written by the daughter of Peter Goldsworthy, whose novel “Maestro” I studied in year 12 and have since taught to VCE a number of times myself. “Piano Lessons” shows that Anna Goldsworthy has a similar gift with language to her father. Beautiful descriptions of Anna’s rise to professional pianist are scattered throughout this nov I studied piano for 12 years, and gave it all up to be a terrible saxophonist. But I hold a very soft spot in my heart for piano and one day will own one again. This is written by the daughter of Peter Goldsworthy, whose novel “Maestro” I studied in year 12 and have since taught to VCE a number of times myself. “Piano Lessons” shows that Anna Goldsworthy has a similar gift with language to her father. Beautiful descriptions of Anna’s rise to professional pianist are scattered throughout this novel. To have AG read it herself and include music between the chapters was lovely.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Cherry

    This is the second time that i listened to this audiobook. I have been thinking of learning to play piano as an adult these recent two years, that's how i found this book. The author read it herself with her beautiful voice and full passion and an outstanding teacher's image is vivid and imprinted in my mind. It is inspiring to see how many hours the author has spend in playing piano each day and how to understand music at a higher level. It will help me in my journey learning playing piano defi This is the second time that i listened to this audiobook. I have been thinking of learning to play piano as an adult these recent two years, that's how i found this book. The author read it herself with her beautiful voice and full passion and an outstanding teacher's image is vivid and imprinted in my mind. It is inspiring to see how many hours the author has spend in playing piano each day and how to understand music at a higher level. It will help me in my journey learning playing piano definitely.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Susan Steggall

    A lyrical memoir of the young Anna as she grows to physical and musical maturity, negotiating school and studio under the ever-watchful eye of her piano teacher, Mrs Sivan. Chapters pay tribute to some of the great European composers in turn as Anna takes on their compositions. The reader follows Anna through the highs and lows of practice, the terrors of competitions and the challenges of ensemble playing. Through the colourful, offbeat English of Mrs Sivan, the reader comes to appreciate music A lyrical memoir of the young Anna as she grows to physical and musical maturity, negotiating school and studio under the ever-watchful eye of her piano teacher, Mrs Sivan. Chapters pay tribute to some of the great European composers in turn as Anna takes on their compositions. The reader follows Anna through the highs and lows of practice, the terrors of competitions and the challenges of ensemble playing. Through the colourful, offbeat English of Mrs Sivan, the reader comes to appreciate music in an unusual way.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kay Wiggins

    I've just read other reviews of this book, and am happy for the author that so many people seem to have enjoyed it. Ms Goldsworthy had a devoted music teacher; it's a pity she didn't go to her father, author Peter Goldsworthy, for some writing lessons before embarking on this tedious book. The worst thing for me about this book was the dialogue with her piano teacher - the author has tried to get us to hear the Russian accent, but this was just an unsuccessful affectation. I trust her music trans I've just read other reviews of this book, and am happy for the author that so many people seem to have enjoyed it. Ms Goldsworthy had a devoted music teacher; it's a pity she didn't go to her father, author Peter Goldsworthy, for some writing lessons before embarking on this tedious book. The worst thing for me about this book was the dialogue with her piano teacher - the author has tried to get us to hear the Russian accent, but this was just an unsuccessful affectation. I trust her music translates better.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Ly

    So immersive, I read it in one go. The amazing side effect this had on me was it made me feel like I had some sense of renewed purpose in my piano teaching job (sometimes it can be tiring, other times it can feel a little frustrating with children who don't practice!). When I finished this book, I really craved to be better at my job, and also to be a better pianist! So immersive, I read it in one go. The amazing side effect this had on me was it made me feel like I had some sense of renewed purpose in my piano teaching job (sometimes it can be tiring, other times it can feel a little frustrating with children who don't practice!). When I finished this book, I really craved to be better at my job, and also to be a better pianist!

  26. 4 out of 5

    David

    Having read her father's book first (Peter Goldsworthy, author of Maestro), gave this memoir a different perspective, since he figures in the book. However much the author has a clear voice in this book, there is just not many interesting things said here. It is more a picture of her piano teacher saying exactly what you thought she would say. Finished this book in one sitting. Having read her father's book first (Peter Goldsworthy, author of Maestro), gave this memoir a different perspective, since he figures in the book. However much the author has a clear voice in this book, there is just not many interesting things said here. It is more a picture of her piano teacher saying exactly what you thought she would say. Finished this book in one sitting.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    A beautifully written short memoir about the author's relationship with her eccentric Russian piano teacher. The author is an accomplished writer as well as an accomplished professional pianist. This was fabulous as an audiobook, with some short piano pieces that accompany the chapters. A lovely tribute to the woman who was instrumental in her musical education. A beautifully written short memoir about the author's relationship with her eccentric Russian piano teacher. The author is an accomplished writer as well as an accomplished professional pianist. This was fabulous as an audiobook, with some short piano pieces that accompany the chapters. A lovely tribute to the woman who was instrumental in her musical education.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mercer County Library System

    A very heartfelt memoir showing Ms. Goldsworthy's grateful attitude towards the mentors in her life. She appreciates the composers who inspired her and the people who influenced her throughout her life. A great book for music lovers. (Reviewed by Julia, Lawrence Branch) A very heartfelt memoir showing Ms. Goldsworthy's grateful attitude towards the mentors in her life. She appreciates the composers who inspired her and the people who influenced her throughout her life. A great book for music lovers. (Reviewed by Julia, Lawrence Branch)

  29. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    A beautiful audiobook

  30. 5 out of 5

    Anna Lowinger

    Life changing experience. Pure gold. I have read it 16 times so far and I just can't stop reading it. Life changing experience. Pure gold. I have read it 16 times so far and I just can't stop reading it.

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