Goosebump-a thon #13: Piano Lessons can Be Murder

Hello, Spongey here


Welcome back to Goosebump-athon!


Piano Lessons Can Be Murder

 (if that isn’t the most epic title ever, nothing is)



Cover:  This one is pretty cool. Not much to say about it.. it’s just a well done cover


Front Tagline: “Play it again, hands”. That reference is much too classy for this series.

Back Tagline: “Practice til you drop..dead”




Jerry is moving into a new house (of course), but he actually has fun in it. He plays some pranks on his parents, and they don’t like. He also has a cat named Bonkers who scratches everyone and is a horrible cat. Jerry goes up the attic to explore, and finds an old piano. He’s like “Cool” and goes downstairs.

That night, he has a hard time getting to sleep .he suddenly hears piano music coming from upstairs. but when he goes to investigate, there’s no one playing. He tells his parents, but they don’t believe him, of course.

That’s pretty much what happens in the first half of the book. There’s more to it, but it’s mostly this and there is stuff I like, but I’ll skip to the plot, thanks.


One day, Jerry sees a Newspaper ad for a piano school, lead by “Dr Shreek”. He signs up for piano lessons, and the piano is moved the living room for easy access. Dr. Shreek is a friendly, Santa Claus-looking old man. Dr. Shreek dwells on Jerry’s hands, constantly telling him how wonderful they are.  He does good at piano, and things are doing fine.

But music keeps playing at night. One night he finally tries to find out what’s going on…and sees a ghost chick at the piano.  She looks up at him and then her face melts off, revealing a bare skull.

His parents finally decide to take him to physiatrist  about the ghost. It doesn’t help much, but Jerry does have a incentive to really prove the ghost is real now.

Eventually, Jerry gets invited to take private lessons at Dr. Shreek’s private school at the edge of town. One day at his normal school, he runs into a girl named Kim Li Chim. They hit off, but Jerry tells her about the Shreek school….and she runs away after he mentions it.

Jerry is dropped off at the large, scary looking music school for his lesson and immediately goes inside and sees a monster in the hall, except, it is a robotic floor sweeper that looks like a monster. Dr. Shreek tells Jerry that the maintenance man, Mr. Toggle, is a wiz at robotics.

They have the lesson, and it goes well. After his lesson, Jerry gets lost in the building again and Mr. Toggle comes to his rescue and leads him back to the entrance. He seems like a nice guy, and stuff.

That night, Jerry hears the ghost again, and decides to confront her for good this time. she raises her arms and reveals bloody stumps where her hands used to be.


You know-for kids!


Jerry screams his head off, and his parents comfort him, and of course still do not believe him. Later that day, he runs into kim. He asks why she freaked out and she tells him that she heard a lot of spooky stories about the school and that’s why she ran away, Jerry is fine about that, but she tells him about the ghost, and she doesn’t believe it either.

So Kim walks away and never shows up again. What a great character.

Jerry decides that he doesn’t want to take lessons again, but his parents make him go to ONE more. He does, and at the end, he tells Dr Shreek he is quitting.

Dr. Shreek goes berserk and insists that he needs Jerry’s hands, grabbing his wrists to force him to stay. Well, I see he took it well.

Wait…he wants…his hands. ..uh, pedo much?


Jerry runs off and stumbles into the school’s auditorium. Jerry runs inside and sees row after row of black pianos, each with a head-nodding instructor, and each piano being played by….human hands, but ONLY human hands!

And in the book, “hands” is In huge text. Yeah, I get it Stine.


Mr. Toggle bursts into the room and saves Jerry by turning off Dr. Shreek with a remote. It turns out Dr. Shreek was a robot. …okay, I didn’t see that one coming..

*Earlier in the book*

JERRY: He says you are  a genius


TOGGLE: I programmed him to say that, heh




Jerry tries to leave, but Mr toggle stops him.

“I need your hands!”

Oh god, not him too.


Mr. Toggle is the one who needs Jerry’s hands, he explains. Mr. Toggle is apparently a brilliant “robotician,” but he can’t make human hands correctly. So he uses human specimens and using computer technology, makes the severed hands play beautiful music all the time. So he chops of kids hands for his crazy music obsession.

Okay, this is a cool villain.

Jerry tries to escape the auditorium but he runs right into the ghost girl from his house. She screams at Jerry, telling him that she tried to warn him, to scare him away from taking lessons from the school.

And she didn’t actually tell him to stay away from the school…nice.

. The ghost holds up her bloody stumps and then conjures up all of the ghostly spirits from the disembodied hands playing at the pianos in the auditorium. A swarm of ghosts attached to their human hands attack Mr. Toggle in front of Jerry, carrying the robotician off into the woods behind the school, never to be seen again…


Jerry heads home, and everything returns to normal. The ghost goes away and he never deals with his hands being handled by a pedo

Twist Ending:

He joins the baseball team,


“I’m pretty good. Everyone says…I have good hands”


..kidding, there’s no twist. But this IS the last line of the book. That’s what I’ve always assumed though.

I like the lack of twist, since this book is fine without one.

TV Episode:


The cat is deleted, and kim is changed to being black, and is only in one scene that doesn’t figure into the plot. Also, a good deal of the plot is simplified, but it works. Also, Dr Shreek is played by aaron Tiger. He was Dr. Vink in Are You Afraid of the Dark. He’s great in this. He’s creepy, hammy, and fun. And is exactly like the shreek in the book.

Oh, and remember the first Dr Vink episode? Well,  the first thing you see in his a hand in a jar.

Hilarious in hindsight?


So anyway, they also change some things with Toggle. The Ghost chick…was Toggle’s music teacher! She says he was smart, but very lazy and thus wanted machines to do everything. Toggle says he did well, but it was never enough for her, so he built machines to do well to impress her..but as you can see, he went crazy.

So he’s a well-rounded villain in the episode! The ghost girl punishes him by making him play piano forever  ,which is how the episode ends. Yeah, I prefer this version. Good episode!

Notable Lines:

“:I need those beautiful hands”

Useless Fact: The book was originally gonna be about GUITAR lessons. Stine changed it since it wasn’t scary enough.

Also, the song the ghost plays in the Tv Ep is “Moonlight Soata”. You may know it from the “Ask that guy with the glasses” videos. Now the song can be associated  with psychopaths  AND hand stealing pedos!


Final Thoughts:

This is an underrated gem of the series. The story is strongly done, the tension is good, and it’s one of the scariest in the series. You got that bloody stump scene up there! Mr Toogle is one of the best villains, because he’s not a monster, but a person with a peculiar obsession. The book doesn’t really explore it, but it’s still well done. Dr Shreek is a lot of fun too. It’s a creepy one that is fun for kids, and fun for adults to make pedo jokes. It’s pretty decent

Grade:  A-




See ya!


About Spongey444

I'm 20 and I'm a slightly below average man who can barely spell. I mostly spend my time watching TV and movies, hence why i ended doing a blog all about those things. I tend to have weird tastes, but I like think I'm just fair on things.
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