Thursday, September 22, 2022

Review: Every Good Boy Does Fine, by Jeremy Denk

Every Good Boy Does Fine, by Jeremy Denk. 2022. Link is to my store. I receive a small commission on sales.

What a delight this memoir is. 

I picked this up at Three Lives & Company bookstore in Greenwich Village on impulse, because it's about piano and I am a beginner piano student, and it looked like it might be a fun read. And it is.

Jeremy Denk started piano as a small child and this book is like a love letter to music and to his teachers. He takes us from childhood to early adulthood, roughly ending the book when he finished his formal schooling ending with a doctorate from Julliard. He talks about growing up and studying piano in New Mexico, Ohio, Indiana and finally New York- his teachers, pieces that he loves, thoughts on music and performance. It's just a terrific book.

Some of the material on music or music theory (okay, most of it) is way above my pay grade as someone who has been learning music for less than two years, but a lot more than I would have expected was actually very accessible and fun to read. I remember in particular a passage about a piece where at one point there is a staccato notation above a note and a pedal notation below it, and I understood both why that was absurd and how lovely it probably sounds when you figure out how to resolve it, for example. There are also extensive lists of recommended pieces to listen to with the chapters, which is fun. 

Much of the memoir centers on his lessons, on the learning process and his relationship with various teachers. Denk is always working working, taking on new repertoire and performance challenges, and one thing I'm loving about learning music is that you're never done- there's always something new to keep you excited and interested and moving forward. I love that feeling of always wanting to know and do more even as your skills and aptitude continue to develop. It's one of the most motivating things for me, and I love that Denk really shows us the joy that he finds in always continuing to learn and grow.

If you decide to read Every Good Boy, or even if you don't, I definitely suggest going to your favorite streaming service and listening to his recordings. Either way you should read the book and enjoy Denk's voice and writing, which are delightful. 

I did not receive this book for review.

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