Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Tickling the ivories

Those who knew me in my teens would be surprised, I think, at my restraint now that our house shelters a piano. Piano, piano, I can hardly believe our good fortune and the blessing of a free piano that sounds pretty decent and only needs a little bit orepair to the mechanical works (we hope, we think, we'll see).

I discovered a passion for the piano when I was about 12, and pestered my mom for at least a year, begging her for piano lessons and the small matter of a piano. Eventually I seemed to wear her down, or prove that it wasn't a whim, here today, gone tomorrow. She and my grandparents put their heads together and got an upright piano and found me a teacher, and at the age of 13 I began piano lessons. I loved to play! and could hardly pass a piano without playing a bar or so of music I was working on.

Then came college and no piano or lessons or any steady access to a piano to play. I remember playing the piano in the dorm entrance area once or twice. Playing my favorite pieces in vacant music practice rooms. And, years later, bringing my music and coming an hour early to my church to play a piano for a little while.

A month or so ago we suddenly, completely unexpectedly, were offered the gift of a piano, destined for the landfill because the owner had been unable to find a new home for it -- we said Yes yes yes!

That remarkable restraint? It is this: that I have not spent hours a day at this piano! And I've hung back and listened to the boys experimenting with a nice long keyboard and real mechanical action. They've been making their own music, which is pretty cool.

Every three or four days, though, I pull out my J.S. Bach adaptations: the Solfeggietto to get the kinks out of my left hand, and then Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring to warm up everything just a little bit. My book of sonatinas is still too difficult, so I've found a happy home with my final lesson book: John Thompson's Modern Course for the Piano, Fourth Grade. Lots of pieces to work on, some very familiar and others I may or may not have played and surely don't remember at all.

At some point I'd like to actually learn scales and stuff. My teacher didn't go in for that, or music theory, and now I wish I had learned it. And after a while I definitely will pull out the sonatinas again, and the Maple Leaf Rag!

How wonderful to be able to dip into the making-music world without urgency. I used to play until my fingers ached, because I didn't know when I'd have the chance again. This slower, more relaxed approach keeps my aging wrists and other joints from getting sore as I get used to this old-new activity. What a pleasure!


revabi said...

Ooh play on, and learn those scales.

katie said...

Congrats! How wonderful to have such a gift and a passion. Two years of piano lessons during my early teens and I can barely play chopsticks! :) How I wish I had paid more attention.