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Archive for October, 2011

Piano Lessons!

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Thought it might be interesting for some of you to hear my latest adventure. No, I’m not going overseas to do another epic journey. This time, my adventure is back to music! It’s been over three years since I’ve seriously played piano and it’s been on my mind to get back to it. I’ve dabbled a little over the last year and even invested in a good digital piano but haven’t seriously started practicing again. Until now.

As any other musician out there knows, there’s no way to get you to practice like having an upcoming lesson. I really did need the structure and expectation that enrolling back in lessons would give me. So here about two weeks ago, I started lessons with an instructor by the name of Debbie Dewey. She came highly recommended and I even had taken a few lessons from her when she was substituting for one of my professors.

I had a lot of fun starting back up again and things were different this time around. I should probably save some of this for another post, but I found any kind of practicing very enjoyable and centering and inspiring. It’s like there was a part of my brain that had gone dormant and was finally being re-awakened. Once I focused in, I entered a new world. The world was challenging and inspiring, full of emotions and beauty. I truly enjoyed the practicing leading up to my first lesson. It was like my musical self was being reborn.

The first lesson went well. We spent a lot of time just talking and getting Debbie up to speed on my background and intentions with music going forward. It was fun recounting all the pieces I’d played in high school and college, and I was surprised how even still I could play the opening passage from a lot of them. Debbie was great about making me feel relaxed and focusing on the beauty of the music, rather than the myriad of self-doubting thoughts and distractions that could easily wreck it.

Anyway, I left the first lesson inspired to keep practicing and bring back the piece in even better shape. I had two weeks before we planned to meet again. For the curious, the piece I was learning was a Prelude by Rachmaninoff, Op. 32 No.2. A haunting and beautiful piece that reminds me of the frigidity and depression of some person’s life in Russia. It was like a bent over flower, just poking out of the snow and just barely making staying alive.

I’d been practicing a good amount since the lesson and today Debbie held a group lesson at her house. Both her young and adult students would be playing their pieces, in whatever shape they were in. We had a crowd of 10 or so. It was fun just watching the little students, their faces lit up with excitement to play and enjoy the music. It was interesting to think of myself once in their shoes, just playing a simple song and barely reaching the pedals. It gave me a lot of respect and appreciation for all the hard work I’ve put in (and pushing from my parents) to make it this far. I am so glad to get started again and continue enjoying and developing this wonderful skill!

Anyway, I ended up playing for the group. My piece wasn’t nearly in performing shape but since everybody else had given it a shot, I decided to also. I did want to share that beautiful piece with the group, it’s just that I could’ve given a better rendition of it had I waited longer. But I decided to give it a shot anyway.

The nervousness came rushing back at me, just as it always had in my former life as a musician. The cold fingers, the tingling in the forearms, the feeling that you’re never getting a full breath. I tried calm myself down but no logic would calm the beast of fear. It raged on inside me as I tried to remain cool and calm for the rest of the group.

Debbie said some words to introduce me to the group and then I told them the piece I was going to play. I made some comment about them hearing the music despite the wrong notes, as a way of letting myself off the hook. Part of me was eager to play the beautiful music for them while the other part was just trying to keep myself from visibly trembling. The nerves were ridiculous and totally unwarranted. I think it was just because I hadn’t played for strangers since my recital in 2008 and had lost all my resistance to stage fright. So annoying.

Anyway, I thought I played it fairly well. My arms were weak but I was focused on the music and bringing out the beauty of it and I think that carried me through the rough sections. Some things lept up as stumbling blocks that I never had trouble with before but I played on, just wanting to maintain the overall sense of musical phrase and idea.

And before long, it was over. People clapped and seemed to have enjoyed it. I was glad I played and had enjoyed it as well, all though there was the part of me that was embarrassed for making so many mistakes with the notes. Oh well, that really shouldn’t matter to most people anyway. Plus I’m still learning the piece, so that’ll go away.

We chatted some more after that and then the other adult students played. I liked both of their senses of musicality. It’ll be a good group. Next month I’ll have this piece in way better shape and maybe even another to play for them. I’m looking forward to it. That’s all for this post. I’ll write more as I have the inspiration. Thanks for reading!

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October 2nd, 2011 at 7:19 pm

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