Listening to their offspring going through their music practice is one of the dubious joys to be endured by the attentive parent. But what if the budding pianist in the front room is not a relation, and the instrument itself not part of the family either?
That's the scenario in a score of Dublin homes currently acting as voluntary hosts to young entrants in the Axa Dublin International Piano Competition over the next couple of weeks.
Some of the 40 competing students from around the world can avail of practice rooms in the salubrious surroundings of the Swiss or Japanese embassy, the RDS, or the Royal Irish Academy, but the majority live and practise in more modest houses until the competition ends in the National Concert Hall on 15 May.
And for those staying in homes where the piano is not up to standard – or non-existent – the competition organisers have arranged a special delivery of boudoir and baby grands .
Fiona Eogan has hosted international students for the past three competitions in her Rathgar home. Not having a piano is not a deterrent, she says – but having a bay window certainly helps.
"We haven't had a piano since the days of our old, beaten upright. But brand new concert-standard pianos are loaned to families hosting students. It was quite a big deal getting our baby grand up the steps. Two huge lads carried it in several pieces and then assembled it in the bay window. It's lovely, but takes up an enormous amount of space. A former student from the Czech Republic, who made it to the final last time, called our loaned practice piano 'the beast in the corner'."
John Holland of Pianos Plus has organised delivery of over 20 pianos to Dublin homes over the past week.
"They are extremely difficult to move, not just because of weight, but also because of their delicacy. The sound board is particularly fine and fragile. It's true to an extent that a brand new piano being put through its paces is good for stabilising the tuning. For the families, it's nice if the winner of one of classical music's most prestigious competition has played their piano."
Twenty-two-year-old Olga Kozlova from Moscow is staying with the Eogan family for this year's competition. Along with musical skills, Olga has very good English. But do the family get tired listening to all those scales and arpeggios and the odd concerto?
"We do it purely for pleasure of hearing some of the most demanding pieces played by a talented pianist who becomes part of the family. Olga feels like our own child at this stage. We'll be gutted if she doesn't get through to the finals."