Wednesday, September 23, 2009

playing piano

I think I started taking piano lessons when I was about 6. Pretty sure I took lessons for at least 8 or 9 years.
Once I left home I didn't touch a piano for maybe 20 years.
A few years ago, I acquired a beautiful white baby grand.
At first I was so excited to play, I expected those years of lessons and practice would be waiting in my skill closet just exactly where I left them.
I was actually horrified to discover my trained touch was very rusty. So horrified in fact that even though I have this gorgeous instrument sitting in my living room, I rarely touch it. I just can't seem to muster up the courage to start over.
John Thompson's Book 1. Daily Dozen finger exercises.
I wanted to sit down and play Claire d' Lune just as the author intended it.
(Another case of all or nothing...)

It calls to me now, reminding me that I always imagined myself playing with ease and confidence. Somehow a payback to my parents for their years of investing in lessons.
And of course, my own joy.

Mostly I play from the church hymnal. I sing quietly to the songs we sang every Sunday.
My fingers don't remember all the notes exactly. My heart remembers. It is a comfort and a balm. Every once in a while I'll attempt Claire d' Lune or a Billy Joel song or one of the really tough Etudes.

It's not like meditation. Someone asked me the other day if it was.
No, it's more work than meditating.
I expect that as I continue to practice I will grow in my confidence.
Right now I am shy. Remembering and stretching at the same time.


  1. Oh My!! John Thompson's lesson books!!! Severe flash backs! Mine's an upright (in perfect saloon-tune) and although I want to spin out a Clemente Sonatina, my fingers remember only the first 4 bars of Scott Joplin's 'The Entertainer'. I found the reservable practice rooms (complete with spinets) in the music center at college a perfect counter-balance to the 8" thick nursing texts. I'm encouraged by your example that this may be a reclaimable balance point. Thank you for sharing.
    I envy that you have made the time/effort.

  2. Anonymous11:09 PM

    I loved the last line of what you wrote, Paula. "Remembering and stretching at the same time." Life IS that way, isn't it? Stretching back and stretching forward with NOW being the meeting point of the two-way longing. My piano lessons began when I was 8, and I practiced on a cardboard keyboard on our dining room table as my parents searched for a piano they could afford. How my mom longed to play, and how she savored MY getting the lessons and the opportunity she never had. Your mentioning it makes me long to find one and play again, too!

  3. I love how you said "I expect that as I continue to practice I will grow in my confidence." I feel the same way about my business. As each day goes by I feel more confident.