Not too long ago, I thought I had solved all my problems. I had an apartment to myself (no roommates to worry about). It was on the second floor (not too difficult to get the piano in and out). And the downstairs neighbors never complained. I could never quite understand why they never complained, but I was happy to let the matter rest.

In fact, so tolerant were the neighbors that they allowed several people to enter the apartment one weekend when I was away and help themselves. When I returned, I found that the burglars had chopped a large hole in the door, upended the dresser, pried into a locked metal file cabinet, strewn clothes and books everywhere, and the neighbors, bless their hearts, had never said a word. Stereo, television, tape recorder, typewriter, piano amplifier, and miscellaneous odds and ends had been removed. Miraculously, the piano stood in the center of the living room. (I don’t blame the thieves for not taking it—I know how difficult it is to get it down the stairs.)

But there is, at last, a happy ending. I now have a large apartment in a nice neighborhood. It’s on the second floor, though the stairs are wide and easy to negotiate. And I am able to practice at all reasonable hours. Recently, I was passing the time with my neighbor downstairs. “Oh yes,” she said, in a friendly voice, “I can hear the piano loud and clear.” I looked up, and I was smiling.

She wasn’t.

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