Thursday, March 27, 2014

piano lessons again

It's nice to have piano lessons again. I feel like it gives me a purpose each week - a short-term goal to work towards ("Get good at those short pieces in the practice book. Improve on the longer 'serious' piece I'm working on.") It's like homework in a way, and one of the things I confess I miss about homework was that when it was done, you felt like you had completed something.

I also find that practicing feels more purposeful to me when someone else is going to hear me play and maybe give me guidance on how to make a certain chord easier to hit, or how to do something better. (Even if my teacher kind of laughed and said, "I feel like I don't do a lot during your lesson; I just sit and listen to you play" but she really does do things - she suggests alternate fingerings that might work better for me, or tells me "bring the glissandos out a little more" or "Remember this is in 3/4 time")

I do notice I don't play quite so well when someone else is listening to me, even someone who really isn't all that judgmental (other than in the sense of "I know you want to improve and here are some ideas"). I get nervous. That makes me a little sad and I wonder if I'll ever get over it, seeing that I've had lessons now off and on for five years.

It seems bizarre to me, but probably really isn't, that I get "stage fright" with the piano, but I can get up and teach or read Scripture in church or do all kinds of things with absolutely no fear. Public speaking is not an issue for me and pretty much never was. But I guess with playing music (and I remember this from my days with the clarinet), there's another object involved, and I can't always trust that object (or my use of it) to work 100% the way I expect it to. (I will note that when I have to demonstrate how to turn dialysis tubing into a "model cell" in one lab class I teach, it always seems harder for me to get the tubing to open up when the students are watching me as a class, than if one student comes up to me and goes, "I can't get my tubing to open, can you help me?")

I'm back working on the little Michael Haydn minuet (or is it a polonaise? I can't remember right off right now). That might just get one more week before it's "done." (I think I'm more of a perfectionist than my teacher: to me, to be "done" with a piece, I want to play it through perfectly almost every time I play it. It takes a long time to get there - I'm there on a couple of the little Anna Magdalena pieces, but it's only very basic pieces I can play through perfectly. I think my teacher is more focused on "mostly technically good but also captures the feeling of the piece" and she's more forgiving of the occasional wrong-key-hit than I am.). I'm also still working on Londonderry Air (this is an arrangement out of a book called something like Piano Pieces for the Adult Student that I ordered from Amazon a while back). It's not impossibly hard but it's complex enough that I have to work at it. But I can tell I'm getting there on it. And it's a nice change from the more heavily-classical pieces I play: I kind of like some of the old folk-song arrangements and maybe I will get to do more in the future.

1 comment:

Bob & Phyllis said...

that's funny--I'm the exact opposite. I'm a retired professional musician and I NEVER had issues with standing up and playing. However, put me up there without an instrument (e.g., public speaking), and the nerves kick in.

Glad you are able to continue lessons and enjoy your music.