“The wrong piano”: how the challenges we face are an opportunity to create something extraordinary

When pianist Keith Jarratt arrived at the Köln (Cologne) opera house in 1975 he found that the wrong piano had been set up for him on stage. It was an old, practice piano. Some of the keys were stuck, others were out of tune. The upper register was harsh and tinny. It was just not the kind of piano that a musician of his calibre could be expected to play. And so he refused. Point blank.

But somehow the young promoter managed to win him round. He chose to improvise within the constraints he had been given. And in doing so, Jarratt unexpectedly created the most successful solo jazz album of all time and the most popular piano album in history.

The challenges offered by working within the confines of the ‘wrong’ piano became an opportunity to create something out of the ordinary: something “magical, amazing, breathtaking, electrifying” … “A masterpiece.”

We all face challenges. And overcoming these challenges (or working within them) is not a barrier to our job, it is our job. And in the ways we choose to respond, we all have the opportunity to create a masterpiece.

How often do you treat the challenges you face as an opportunity to create something extra-ordinary?

You can listen to the full concert here.


Adapted from Inner Leadership: tools for building inspiration in times of change.

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2 Replies to ““The wrong piano”: how the challenges we face are an opportunity to create something extraordinary”

  1. Particularly good blog today for me. Thank you. I listened to the Koln concern much of the way through college. Interesting to hear the back story. We learn to make lemonade from lemons. 🙂

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