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How We Play The Pianola
by [?]

[FOREWORD. Margery wishes me to publish the following correspondence, which has recently passed between us. It occurs to me that the name under which I appear in it may perhaps need explanation. I hate explanations, but here it is.

When Margery was eight months old, she was taught to call me “Uncle.” I must suppose that at this time I was always giving her things–things she really wanted, such as boot-laces, the best china, evening papers and so on–which had been withheld by those in authority. Later on, these persons came round to my way of thinking, and gave her, if not the best china, at any rate cake and bread-and-butter. Naturally their offerings, being appreciated at last, were greeted with the familiar cry of “Uncle,” “No, dear, not ‘Uncle,’ ‘Thank-you,'” came the correction.]


Dear Thankyou,–I’ve some wonderful news for you! Guess what it is; but no, you never will. Well, I’ll tell you. I can walk! Really and really.

It is most awfully interesting. You put one foot out to the right, and then you bring the left after it. That’s one walk, and I have done seven altogether. You have to keep your hands out in front of you, so as to balance properly. That’s all the rules–the rest is just knack. I got it quite suddenly. It is such fun; I wake up about five every morning now, thinking of it.

Of course I fall down now and then. You see, I’m only beginning. When I fall, Mother comes and picks me up. That reminds me, I don’t want you to call me “Baby” any more now I can walk. Babies can’t walk, they just get carried about and put in perambulators. I was given a lot of names a long time ago, but I forget what they were. I think one was rather silly, like Margery, but I have never had it used lately. Mother always calls me O.D. now.

Good-bye. Write directly you get this.

Your loving.


My Dear O.D.,–I was so glad to get your letter, because I was just going to write to you. What do you think? No, you’ll never guess–shall I tell you?–no–yes–no; well, I’ve bought a pianola!

It’s really rather difficult to play it properly. I know people like Paderewski and–I can only think of Paderewski for the moment, I know that sort of person doesn’t think much of the pianola artist; but they are quite wrong about it all. The mechanical agility with the fingers is nothing, the soul is everything. Now you can get the soul, the con molto expressione feeling, just as well in the pianola as in the piano. Of course you have to keep a sharp eye on the music. Some people roll it off just like a barrel-organ; but when I see Allegro or Andante or anything of that kind on the score, I’m on it like a bird.

No time for more now, as I’ve just got a new lot of music in.

Your loving,

P.S.–When are you coming to hear me play? I did “Mumbling Mose” just now, with one hand and lots of soul.

(Signed) ~Paderewski.~

P.P.S.–I am glad you can walk.


Dear Thankyou,–I am rather upset about my walking. You remember I told you I had done seven in my last? Well, this morning I couldn’t do a single one! Well, I did do one, as a matter of fact, but I suppose some people would say it didn’t count, because I fell down directly after, though I don’t see that that matters,–do you, Thankyou? But even with that one it was only one, and yet I know I did seven the day before. I wonder why it is. I do it the right way, I’m sure, and I keep my hands out so as to balance, so perhaps it’s the shoes that are wrong. I must ask Mother to get me a new pair, and tell the man they’re for walks.