Piano Roles



Not these kinds of piano rolls

I chose this title for my blog because of all the roles I have played inside and outside of this home that houses so many pianos and has had so many stories associated with it. It begs the following question:

I keep reading about documentary films on pianists and their potential to have a career, family support or non-support, the sacrifices made, (i.e. La Calle De Los Pianistas; Seymour; the Olga Samaroff Story, and many more). But, has anyone ever done a film (or written a book) on living in an over-sized house chock full of 30 pianos, living with either 26 adult amateur pianists (or 40+ pianists between the ages of 7 and 16) and trying to have a normal family life?! I had my first baby during a piano camp, my father died during piano camp, my husband was ill for years with chronic fatigue syndrome and we still held the piano camps.


This house in China is making a piano statement!

9/11 occurred just days before a piano camp and the pianists still found a way to get to the September Sonata from as far away as California, finding flights at the last moment. Hurricane Irene ripped through VT in 2011 and tore at the hearts of the pianists who worried about the town in which their piano camp exists so they gave generously to the Town of Bennington in support of fixing a broken water pipe. Weddings have sprung from those who met at piano camp (someone told me that we should charge a premium for the added bonus of matchmaking!). Third generation children of piano camp are now attending Summer Sonatina, keeping up the piano camp bonds that last a lifetime. Flash mobs happen spontaneously in downtown Bennington because the young pianists love having fun, even if only for a few minutes.

My own piano history is pretty wild. At age 15, I commuted to NYC in an orange VW bug, driving myself and my youngest sister to the Juilliard School for our piano lessons and other classes. Public transportation was too expensive and so this was the only alternative. Mom and Dad stayed awake to make sure we were safely back the first trip and from then on, appeared nonchalant about the driving routines.


The Juilliard School as it looks today

Our family and about 7 pianos at the time, moved into a former convent in Old Bennington after having outgrown the small house in North Bennington. I remember that the pianos got moved first before all the furniture. I stayed at the house as I had a big performance coming up and needed to do a lot of practicing. It was freaky sleeping all alone in such a large house with hissing steam radiators going off at all hours of the night. The pianos seemed not to notice!


A newer orange VW bug now graces our driveway!

In short, what happens at piano camp does not stay at piano camp! My incredible extended family of pianists (over 4000 pianists have come through our doors) have enriched my life but what I have also found is that the people who have come to piano camp have had their lives indelibly changed forever as well.

Please feel free to share YOUR story about how piano camp has impacted you. Thank you!

About Polly van der Linde

Pianist, teacher, director of International Piano Camps in VT, for adults and children of all levels of ability
This entry was posted in History of Sonatina, Piano, Sonata, Sonatina, Summer Sonatina. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Piano Roles

  1. Barbara Napholtz says:

    I first came to Piano Camp in May, 2008 … and have come to Summer Sonata every August since 2009. Piano Camp has given me so much — good friends, great music, wonderful teachers ( and let’s not forget the delicious food! ) … the whole experience inspired me to begin a search for a new teacher to replace a beloved teacher who moved overseas in 1990 — and that journey has further inspired me to trek into NYC after work from my home in NJ anywhere up to 3 evenings a week to study at Juilliard. It’s been great … and the journey continues!

    Thank you, Polly … for everything!

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