"Quirky, weird, whimsical, tongue-in-cheek... as well as surprisingly appealing and entertaining in a completely honest and guileless manner." - Don Conlan

"A glimpse into the mind of an artist. Articulate, sarcastic, messy, witty, fun-loving, hard-working, lazy, creative...." - Mark Larsen

"You wrote a book?" - Former Boss

In 2014, I made the decision to do a one man show. It would be a small concert with talk formatted after Elaine Stritch's “At Liberty”. She told hilarious anecdotes from her Broadway career and sang her signature songs. 
 
Of course, I don’t sing. And when I told my sister the plan, she immediately said, "But you're not funny." 
 
I completed a draft on my birthday and was excited to go into pre-production. 
 
Except my longtime collaborator, Sarah, who had agreed to direct, came over to my apartment and gave me notes. 
 
She was hoping to see more of a “play” with a stronger thematic through line. She wanted me to go deeper into the struggles of practicing and quitting the piano; and somehow, over the course of ninety minutes, find redemption. This probably meant emotional breakdowns on stage and far more truth. “Write it as though you won’t be performing it.” 
 
I had viewed the show as the opportunity to play some songs, get some cheap laughs and include a couple of way-too-politically-correct behind-the-scenes stories of concert prep. She wanted something stronger. Less gloss, less sanitized, less safe… less bullsh-t. 
 
Fine. Problem… I am not an actor. 
 
Sarah’s voice did carry a ton of weight. She has been involved creatively one way or another in the majority of my film and theatre projects. 
 
Meanwhile, one of my best friends from college, Matt, read the script and made an off-handed remark that I should write a book. Suddenly, I could take Sarah’s notes which were undeniably insightful, and save everyone the embarrassment of watching me “act”. 
 
I could talk about the extreme hilarity and epic failures during rehearsals. 
 
The perils of dating while prepping for a show. 
 
My love/hate relationship with Rachmaninov and the stupidity of putting up his “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini” with full orchestra having played it in its entirety only one time before performing it. 
 
I’ve gone back and forth on writing this book, mainly because as a performer and screenwriter, you want to look ahead and not wallow in the past. 
 
To compromise, I decided not to go all the way back, but rather pick up with one piece of music. 

 “Totentanz”, by Franz Liszt, has been a part of my piano life since I was sixteen. It will be used as a marker for discussion at various performances over a span of twenty-plus years. (Crap I’m old.) 
 
I would have included Liszt in the title of the book, but Rachmaninov fit the alliteration better, is a far more vexing piece of music and was with me during the same time period. 
 
Thank you for your interest in this eBook. I am clearly procrastinating from the piano, as I HATE PRACTICE. 

This book is being rewritten to discuss creativity in composition and the Arts.

© 2020 by Akira Nakano

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