Erica Ehm Exposed!


A Play With Teachable Moments

2 Pianos 4 Hands

by: Erica Ehm

If your kids are taking music lessons, run, don't walk, to see the play 2 Pianos 4 Hands.

The show was created, performed and directed by Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt. I had heard the show was great. It premiered 15-years ago, has played in nearly 200 cities worldwide and is arguably the most successful play in the history of Canadian theatre.

The play is a hilarious and heartbreaking series of scenarios chronicling both performers' parallel lives growing up studying classical piano from the age of seven.

My son plays trumpet. It's mandatory at his school. How can I say this delicately? HE HATES IT. He doesn't like the instrument, hates practicing and doesn't like his teacher.

This weekend I brought my 7-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son to see the show. I was slightly concerned when I noticed that 85% of the audience were older adults. I'm talking seniors. The reality of my kids sitting through a two person adult show for an hour and a half started to seem like a bad idea.

Until the performers came on stage, and began playing the most magnificent piano in tandem.

The script and performances were brilliant. Both Ted and Richard's ability to jump into the skin of the boys they used to be, the teachers who taught them, the parents who pushed them, and the musicians they become were riveting.

Throughout the show I kept sneaking peeks at my son. He was killing himself with laughter, relating only too well to the personal hell of learning to play an instrument unfolding on stage. He howled knowingly at the frustrated teacher and the tortured boys who hated to practice. He laughed because it was true.

Exchange a piano for a trumpet and Josh's frustration was being played out on stage. Talk about a teachable moment!

At dinner we shared our favourite moments of the show. There were a lot of them. The conversation jumped from the stress of learning music, to the importance of doing what you love. We talked about how persistence pays off; how Malcom Gladwell says it takes 10,000 tries to get good at something. We made fun of Josh's teacher and pointed out that the stress he feels when he can't get a good sound in his trumpet is the same frustration the performers felt when they couldn't get their hands to do what they wanted.

Josh still hates trumpet. But now he knows other very talented people also have a hard time learning an instrument. Somehow knowing that he's not alone makes the process a little less painful.

Isn't that what art is supposed to do?!