The library system in the Netherlands is similar to America’s in what it offers, but because you have to pay for a library card (surprising given the tax rate), I haven’t gone until today.  Right now I’m trying to find a reliable public space to teach private lessons because I want to advertise in more places but I also don’t want complete strangers coming into our apartment. I found out a few days ago that there are practice rooms on the top floor of the Rotterdam library, so I went to check it out.

I found a whole hallway of spacious, glass-walled, totally soundproof practice rooms, each with a coat rack, a window, and an upright piano. I went down to customer service and here’s how the conversation went:

“Hi, I don’t have an account but I’m interested in one so I can use the practice rooms.”

“Okay, so you play piano?”

“No, I play clarinet.”

“Well, you can only use these rooms for piano.”


“You can’t play clarinet in the rooms. Only piano.”

“You know I bring my own instruments and supplies for clarinet, right?”

“Yes. But you’re not allowed to do that because those rooms are only for piano.”

“What if I have a rehearsal with a piano player but I bring my clarinet?”

“You’re only supposed to play piano in those rooms.”

“Okay. Well, sometimes I do practice some things on piano. If I go in, with NO CLARINET, and I play piano, and NOT CLARINET, how do I reserve a room?”

“Oh, well, in that case you can come down here and reserve a room up to one hour a day and then you use your card to unlock the door. Do you want a brochure? Here’s a brochure for rates. You’re an expat? Here are special expat rates. Do you want to open an account now?”

I think some things will be straightforward and when I least expect it, I’m reminded that I’m like in a whole different country or something.