I’ve been busy preparing for some upcoming concerts I have that are mixed piano and toy piano programs. I generally have kept the two instruments separate, but recently, people have been requesting a “mixed” program. There are also a lot of people who have suggested playing transcription of pieces with one hand on the toy piano and the other on the regular piano, or full transcriptions of regular piano music for toy piano. For some reason, I’ve never really been attracted to any of these ideas. I think the toy piano is interesting enough to stand on its own. It doesn’t always need to make some literal reference to the regular piano in order to make sense. I realize that performing traditional works on piano creates a “foundation” or lineage for the toy piano’s appearance, but I feel like the toy piano is an entirely different instrument and experience. I do find it to be legitimate on its own and the regular piano shouldn’t be justifying the worth of the toy piano or me.
With traditional piano recitals, most of the pieces are familiar to the listener, and as a performer, you kind of hope that the listener has some level of understanding towards this music so that they will have the patience and appreciation for it. However, with the toy piano, people walk in without any expectations at all. They have never had an experience like it, it doesn’t fit into any specific genre,it’s unpredictable and it piques their curiosity. I feel like they draw from entirely different energies, so it’s been challenging for me to feel a sensible flow, particularly when the program alternates toy piano and piano. I’m sure I will learn something about myself doing this too.