Monday, May 28, 2007

Piano Issues

I don't know where to start. I've been forced to prioritize over the last few months and, unfortunately, and in contrast to my usual priority ordering, piano has had to sit on the back burner. I didn't plan it this way, but it's how it worked out.

The months of April and May were very busy, between volunteer work and freelance jobs. My piano teacher, Deborah, was planning a recital at the time, and a couple of my "lessons" turned into listening/critique sessions where she played her pieces and I listened and gave feedback. We did this for several reasons: (1) I hadn't practiced; (2) she needed the practice; and (3) I think it was good for me as a piano student (piano colleague?) to have these experiences. Deborah said she would give me those lessons back, since they hadn't been actual lessons where I played and she critiqued/guided. That was fine with me.

I was working a contract tech-writing job through part of April and most of May, so I suggested that we not have lessons for the rest of the spring semester, and that the tuition I'd paid in March be applied to summer lessons instead. Deborah was OK with that, I think. Disappointed, as was I, but things were OK.

But now there's a huge obstacle.

I've taken a full-time job that requires a one-hour commute ... in the other direction of my piano teacher's house.

I have some decisions to make. Here are my choices.

(1) Quit the job before I ever start: Not actually a choice. I need the money, and I want the job. Just wanted to make that clear before I present the real choices.

(2) Quit piano: I'd like to say that this is not actually a choice. I definitely don't want to quit piano, even though I've taken quite a sabbatical from it this spring. I'm even trying to arrange with a church near my new job to practice on one of their spare pianos during my lunch hour.

(3) Balance the job and piano: This is the choice I want to make. It's easier said than done, though, because, along with the job and piano, I also want to balance writing, running, husband, and home. I know I can't do it all, but I'm loath to cut out any of these. To try this, though, I can choose from several approaches.

(a) Meet with Deborah for after-work lessons: The earliest I could get to Deborah's house after work would be 7:30 p.m., after a long day of early-morning running, the commute, a full day at work, and another commute. This plan could work if I committed to it, but just thinking about it makes me tired. If we do this, we'd need to meet once every two weeks at most.

(b) Meet with Deborah for weekend lessons: Again, I think this would work best if we met bi-weekly. I like this idea best, even though it would mean shuffling my Saturday morning runs and not attending some Saturday morning races. I mean, this is piano. Writing has always trumped piano, but piano must trump running. But the question is ... would Deborah be willing or even able to give up her Saturday mornings? And if she is, will I be able to practice the piano diligently enough to make it worth it for both of us? It's hard to say because I have no idea how drained my job/commute is going to leave me at the end of each day and week.

(c) Find a new piano teacher: I really don't want to do this. Deborah and I "click," and she has been a wonderful teacher for me. I'm tempted to say this is another "not an option" option. But I've forced myself to think about it. It feels sacrilegious to even write down my options here.

(i) Find a teacher in my town: There are several teachers, but they are mostly teacher of kids, and I don't know how many would be willing/able to take on an advanced NAPS. We NAPS types are a special breed, we are. I may be able to find someone willing to take me on at the local community college, however.

(ii) Contact the music department of the university closest to my new job: The university is about halfway between the new job and my house, so it would be more convenient if I were to find a teacher there. Again, though, it may be hard to find someone who would be willing to take on (1) a non-university student who is also (2) an adult amateur at this keyboard thing, not to mention (3) a full-time professional in a non-music career.

(iii) Ask around and find a non-university piano teacher near my new job: An option, I guess, but I would need to find someone with a doctorate or at least a master's degree in music, and it seems like Option (ii) would be the best place for me to start.

I'm at a crossroads. I started to e-mail Deborah about scheduling summer lessons, but found myself hesitating to make definite plans. I have to think through some things, and probably spend quite a bit of time with George the Piano before I decide what I'm going to do. It would also be nice to work a couple of weeks and see how much this new job is going to take out of me.

And it makes me feel sick to think of quitting lessons with Deborah, who is my friend as well as my piano teacher.

So, instead of finishing my e-mail to Deborah, I wrote this post instead. Any feedback you NAPSters want to give will be appreciated.

1 comment:

Anya said...

I found your blog last week when I went looking for inspiration (after a particularly frustrating practice session), and I've been steadily back-reading since. I'm also a novice pianist and runner, so I'm happy to have found your posts. I'm working on Bach F&P in c# minor and just played the slow movement from a Haydn sonata (Eb MAJ) at a recital. I'm thinking about Chopin next and I've been playing through a few Preludes before I tackle anything extensive. Any suggestions?

Sorry to hear about your recent tough choices. I think the key to living the fulfilled life lies somewhere between doing everything you want to do....and sanity. I wish you the best.