Marching Against Philip

A Discussion on the Good, Bad, and Ugly of Writing

They All Laughed When I Sat Down At The Piano … But When I Started To Play!~

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Here is John Caple’s classic ad written for the U.S. Music School, which employs a storyline appeal. It is so effective because it answers to every individual’s need for attention and recognition too.

They All Laughed When I Sat Down At The Piano … But When I Started To Play!~


“Can he really play?” a girl whispered. “Heavens no!” Arthur   exclaimed. “He never played a note in his life.”

[Body Copy]

Arthur had just played “The Rosary”. The room rang with applause. I decided that this would be a dramatic moment for me to make my debut. To the amazement of all my friend, I strode confidently over to the piano and sat down.

“Jack is up to his old tricks,” somebody chuckled. The crowd laughed. They were certain I couldn’t play a single note.

“Can he really play?” I heard a girl whisper to Arthur.

“Heavens, no!” Arthur exclaimed. “He never played a note in all his life… But just you watch him. This is going to be good.”

I decided to make the most of the situation. With mock dignity I drew out a silk handkerchief and lightly dusted off the piano keys. Then I rose and gave the revolving piano stool a quarter of a turn, just as I had seen an imitator of Paderwski do in a vaudeville sketch.

“What do you think of his execution?” called a voice from the rear.

“We’re in favor of it!” came back the answer, and the crowd rocked with laughter.


Then I Started To Play

Instantly, a tense silence fell on the guests. The laughter died on their lips as if by magic. I played through the first few bars of Beethoven’s immortal Moonlight Sonata. I heard gasps of amazement. My friends sat breathless – spellbound!

I played on and as I played I forgot the people around me. I forgot the hour, the place, the breathless listeners. The little world I lived in seemed to fade – seemed to grow dim – unreal. Only the music was real. Only the music and visions it brought me. Visions as beautiful and as changing as the wind blown clouds and drifting moonlight that long ago inspired the master composer. It seemed as if the master musician was speaking to me – speaking through the medium of music —  not in words but chords. Not in sentences but in exquisite melodies!

A Complete Triumph!

As the last notes of the Moonlight Sonata died away, the room resounded with a sudden roar of applause. I found myself surrounded by excited faces. How my friends carried on! Men shook my hand –wildly congratulated me – pounded me on the back in their enthusiasm! Everybody was exclaiming with delight – plying me with rapid questions… “Jack! Why didn’t you tell us  you could play like that?” … “Where did you learn?” – “How long have you studied?” – “Who was your teacher?”

“I have never ever seen my teacher,” I replied. “And just a short while ago I couldn’t play a note.”

“Quit your kidding,” laughed Arthur, himself an accomplished pianist. “You’ve been studying for years I can tell.”

“I have been studying only for a short while,” I insisted. “I decided to keep it a secret so that I can surprise all you folks.”

Then I told them the whole story.

“Have you ever heard of the U.S. School of Music?” I asked.

A few of my friends nodded. “That’s a correspondence school isn’t it?” they exclaimed.

“Exactly,” I replied. “They have a new simplified method that can teach you to play any instrument my mail in just a few months. “

How I Learned to Play Without a Teacher

And then I explained for years how I longed to play the piano.

“A few months ago,” I continued, “I saw an interesting ad for the U.S. School of Music – a new method of learning to play which only costs a few cents a day! The ad told how a woman had mastered the piano in her spare time at home – and without a teacher! Best of all, the wonderful new method she used, required no laborious scales – no heartless exercises – no tiresome practicing. It sounded so convincing that I filled out the coupon requesting the Free Demonstration Lesson.

“The free book arrived promptly and I started in that very night to study the Demonstration Lesson. I was amazed to see how easy it was to play this new way. Then I sent for the course.

“When the course arrived I found it was just as the ad said – as easy as ABC.  And, as the lessons continued they got easier and easier. Before I knew it I was playing all the pieces I liked best. Nothing stopped me. I could play ballads or classical numbers or jazz, all with equal ease! And  I never did have any special talent for music!”

Play Any Instrument

You too, can now teach yourself to be an accomplished musician – right at home – in half the usual time. You can’t go wrong with this simple new method which has already shown 350,000 people how to play their favourite instruments. Forget the old fashioned idea that you need special “talent”. Just read the list of instruments in the panel, decide which one you want to play, and the U.S. school will do the rest. And bear in mind no matter which instrument you choose, the cost in each case will be the same – just a few cents a day. No matter whether you are a mere beginner or already a good performer, you will be interested in learning this new and wonderful method.

Send for Our Free Booklet and Demonstration Lesson

Thousands of successful students never dreamed they possessed musical ability until it was revealed to them by a remarkable “Musical Ability Test” which we send entirely without cost with our interesting free booklet.
If you are earnest about wanting to play your favourite instrument – if you really want to gain happiness and increase your popularity – send at once for the free booklet and Demonstration Lesson. No cost – no obligation. Right now we are making a Special Offer for a limited number of students. Sign and send the convenient coupon now – before it’s too late to gain the special benefits of this offer. Instruments supplied when needed, cash or credit. U.S. School of Music, 1031 Brunswick Bldg, New York City

Written by kziqi

April 26, 2010 at 1:48 am

2 Responses

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  1. […] Caples este faimosul copywriter al reclamei “They Laughed When I Sat Down At the Piano…” . El a scris, la începutul anilor ’30, Metode de publicitate testate – volum dedicat […]

  2. […] The third-most successful type of headline employs the element of curiosity. To be effective, curiosity must be combined with self-interest or news. One of the most revered and imitated headlines in advertising history is Caple’s classic: […]

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