Girls at the Piano by Virginia Lloyd


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girls at the piano

A brilliant memoir about how learning the piano shaped the lives of two women worlds and generations apart that will resonate for music lovers everywhere and for anyone who has tried to master the piano.

Learning the piano intensively for such a long time shaped my way of seeing and hearing the world, reflecting me back to myself. My ‘pianohood’ of self-discipline, attention to details, careful listening, exponential learning, competition, failure, and the discovery of improvisation affected so many choices I made later in life…These effects of early music training are largely invisible but unmistakeable, the ripples in the pond.

Virginia Lloyd spent much of her childhood and adolescence learning and playing the piano and thought she would make a career as a pianist. She originally started writing this book to understand the mystery of her very musical and deeply unhappy grandmother Alice, and how their lives both at and away from the piano intersected and diverged.

Girls at the Piano also explores the changing relationship between women and the piano over the course of the instrument’s 275-year history. Taking us from the salons of 18th century Europe to an amateur jazz workshop in Manhattan in the early 21st, this is a richly layered memoir that traces the experiences of real and fictional women at the piano over the course of the instrument’s history.

Funny, tender and fascinating, Girls at the Piano is an elegant and multi-layered meditation on identity, ambition and doubt, and how learning the piano had a profound effect on two women worlds and generations apart.