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CATcerto - Nora`s Interview for »Music in«

The following Text is a translation from Nora`s Interview for the italian music magazine »Music in«.

How did you learn to play piano?

I lived with Betsy and Burnell for about a year before I began to play. When my brothers and sisters were upstairs napping, I spent all of my time down in the music studio with Betsy and her students. I danced on top of the piano in circles while they were playing. I looked over the top of their music books and watched their fingers. I even sat next to the students on the bench or chair and watched Betsy teach them during their entire lesson. I especially enjoyed getting in the guitar case during guitar lessons. It seemed to me that Betsy gave her students a lot of attention while they were playing the piano. And I adore being the center of attention. Although I am not too crazy about being petting or held, I do like applause and compliments. One day I just decided to get on the bench and sit like the students I had been watching. I used my paws to press the keys, and I was happy to hear that I could make sounds just like the students. Betsy and Burnell heard me and ran down the stairs. They were laughing and smiling and telling me how wonderful I was. So I decided to continue my efforts to master the piano. It has been a rewarding journey indeed. I receive emails from all over the world, and fans even come to visit me and hear me play. I am glad I can inspire others to reach their potential while exploring the many joys of playing an instrument.

Do you ever want to catch a fly flying around you while playing? Better said: don`t your animal instincts ever prevail on your human skills with no rationality.

As I have stated in my book Nora The PIano Cat`s Guide to Becoming a Good Musician (or How To Get Good At Anything Hard), available for sale on Amazon.com, Betsy is a human so she has the attention span of a human. I, of course, am a cat, so, naturally, I have a feline attention span. The slightest noise or movement distracts me unfortunately. So I must practice in small bursts. But I accomplish a lot because I am very focused during my practice sessions and I work on the hard parts over and over. However, if a fly or a bug flies in front of me, I have to stop what I am doing and chase it. I am, after all, a predator. Also, if one of my cat siblings comes near the piano when I am playing, I have to stop and tell them to go away. It is my piano and I don`t like to share it with anyone, not even Betsy. It is important not to compare yourself to others when learning an instrument. Of course I am inspired by talented musicians, but I accept who I am and do the best with what I have. While Betsy has ten fingers, I only have two paws and my head to use, but I play with passion and enthusiasm despite these limitations. I think in many ways I am like the first astronaut who walked on the moon. I am a pioneer, an example for all of the other cats on the planet, inspiring everyone to try to achieve their dreams!

Who is your favorite musician? Who makes you purr more, who makes you excited, who makes you want to play more?

That is so easy. Betsy is my favorite musician! I listen to her every day. I always purr very loudly when I am playing the piano (and sometimes when I am sleepy and my belly is being rubbed). The joy of creating music just thrills me to the very core of my being. Like any other professional musician, I can tell you that I do have favorite composers. I especially enjoy Johann Sebastian Bach. What a genius! Whenever I hear anyone playing the Bach Minuet in G from the Anna Magdalina notebook, or the beautiful deliriously sweet Prelude in C, or one of his brilliant inventions, I have to run to the piano and join in, even if I am napping. I am also a big fan of Beethoven, particularly Fur Elise - maybe because it`s about fur, I don`t know, but I just love it. And, strangely enough, I am oddly pleased by Mary Had A Little Lamb. It is weird, but if people come to visit Betsy and Burnell and they don`t pay attention to me, I feel compelled to play until I am noticed. I just need to be in the spotlight. Once, when Betsy and Burnell were upstairs being interviewed by a reported for a story about their art, not only did I begin playing furiously, but I also began to sing along, meowing as loudly as I could. This certainly got their attention! I may try playing and singing more in the future.

What`s your favorite genre - classic, jazz, blues...?

At heart, I am a classical musician. Being the intellectual I am, I just can`t help being drawn to the glorious mathematical and emotional perfection of the classical genre. But I am open to all kinds of music and instruments. If I could figure out how to hold a flute, I might try to learn to play it. Thank goodness I was adopted into a home with a piano! People are always telling me my playing sounds like jazz, and I would have to agree. It is easy for me to play the tritone because their are no black notes between B and C or between E and F. So you will often hear me playing a B and F together. It is such a good interval for my little paws. I do reach for black notes too. They add so much flavor to the sound. And I prefer the notes above C5. I have always been drawn to the higher sounds as I can hear so much more than you poor deprived humans. Oh well. We all have our crosses to bear in life.

Do you actually know what your doing at the piano, or do you just try to have random sounds coming out from the keys?

You`re kidding right? Of course I know what I am doing. If you watch all of my videos, you will notice I often play in the same key center as the students during duets. This is not random. I decide which notes to sit in front of before I play. I also play different rhythms and vary repeated notes from pianissimo to forte and back again. When the student finishes their piece, I stop my duet. Every time. Always. When they stop, I stop. Do you think this is random? How could it be? Once, during the Christmas season, when Betsy didn`t have the camera recording and she was teaching one of her adult students on MY piano, I got up at the other piano and played this: AAA, AAA, ACFGA in perfect rhythm. Yes, I played the actual beginning of Jingle Bells. They were astonished. But I have never done it again. It would bore me to repeat myself. My best playing has never been captured on film. It happens when I am alone in the music studio. I can just let go and really improvise. If Betsy or Burnell tries to come in the room to turn on the camera when I am doing this, it makes me so mad that I stop playing all together and jump down. I don`t like being interrupted during moments of intense creativity. Sometimes I use one paw to hold a note down and use my other paw to play the note next to it so I can produce one note at a time instead of two. I think this is a pretty enterprising technique for a cat - don`t you?

Do you feel a different cat, or do you feel a different human?

Oh, I most definitely feel like a cat. Lately many people have been criticizing me for gaining weight. Why do average people have such high expectations of celebrities and their appearances? We`re just like everyone else. I can`t help it. Like Oprah, I just love to eat and I have a slow metabolism. None of my other cat siblings are over weight and they eat the same food as me. I just eat more. I am not like my feline siblings. I like to be by myself or with Betsy. My only friend is my younger brother Rennie and he is also my piano tuner (though Betsy for some reason doesn`t like him to get inside the piano). Sometimes I even nip at the students. I just can`t help myself. Don`t they understand that a great artist needs time to themselves? Every Valentine`s Day, I get a valentine form a sock monkey. My fans just adore me, and who could blame them. It has been a real pleasure being interviewed by Music In. Please give my love to all of my fans in Italy - may all their tuna fish dreams and wishes come true!

Links

Musical piece for a cat became a serious joke –
Interview with Mindaugas Piecaitis

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Nora`s interview for an italian music magazine (the original).

Download pdf-file (100 KB).

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