Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Picking Up the Pieces

Last spring, I got Henry the Grand. It was a sudden kind of thing: I started taking voice lessons from Richard Cook, who is the music director for Reid Memorial Presbyterian in Augusta. He mentioned that the church had a grand piano that he needed to give away. Would I like to look at it? Sure! I suspected it might be a piece of junk, but he assured me that, while it wasn't in the greatest shape, it was a good piano.

So I went to the church, met centenarian "Henry," and said, "Yes, I'll take him."

We had him moved to my house. A few months later, we had him tuned. Between moving and tuning, I probably paid a good $1,000, but ... for a beautiful grand piano? Not a bad deal.

He's since been moved to another room, not right in front of a window.
That move--from one room to another--was $260.
I am in love with Henry. I know he's no Steinway, and no Bösendorfer (which, if I had my druthers ...), but he's mine. He has ivory keys, and I am now in love with ivory keys. I am so happy to have this piano. So happy. I can't even begin to describe it.

But ... so many times a day, I walk right past the music room. I'm too busy with work, huswifery, motherhood, and the rest. If I do go into the music room, it's to practice voice. (Yes, I'm still taking voice. And I can now (mostly) carry a tune, thankyouverymuch.)

I decided that that had to stop. I have a grand piano, for heaven's sakes. I am not going to spend my life walking past a grand piano on the way to pick up dirty socks and throw them in the laundry.

So I've started playing more. I'm picking up the pieces--pieces of my old life, pieces of my old poetic, creative self that too-often gets buried in day-to-day responsibilities. And I'm picking up old pieces--the Bb-minor nocturne, the C#-major prelude and fugue, the old G-minor invention that I love so much. My beloved Ständchen. And some much-older pieces: the Fantasie Impromptu. The Brahms waltz that everyone learns in middle school. The Eb-major nocturne. Old stuff.

As I pick up these old pieces of my life, I have this sense of nostalgia that is both delicious and a little sad. There was a path for me, the path of a professional pianist, a path I could have taken but chose not to take. And the price is that I'm now a middle-aged tech writer with occasional but intense yearnings for a musical life, and with hopes that that musical life is somehow still attainable. It can be a lonely existence, where your best friends are a handful of long-dead composers and a very heavy hunk of wood, strings, and ivory.

But there's still hope. I still love music as much as I ever did, and by some miracle, I can still play these pieces from so long ago, albeit not as well as I once did. I'm going to sign up for piano lessons if I can (meaning, if the piano teacher I want has any slots available for the fall). I'm going to work at this again. Life will (I hope) be somewhat stable for the next ten or so years. And I want piano to play a part in it.

So I've changed the name of this blog to "Picking Up the Pieces." In it, I'll write my progress as I re-learn old pieces, work on new pieces, and generally become re-acquainted with the piano. If you feel compelled to leave comments, please do so--it's nice to know that other people are sharing the journey.


Unknown said...

I've had a similar journey as an aspiring vocalist turned IT professional. But trombone is my axe of choice these days. It is an instrument that I had not touched in over 30 years until Jeff Wickell encouraged me to pick it back up 4 years ago. I completely understand your need to play, the distractions that tug at your time, and your affinity for Henry. But keep playing, my friend. I have found music to be one of the great joys of my life these days. I hope it continues to be for you, as well.

Cass said...

Stick with it this time, Waterfall! You said it yourself, you are planning to be in Augusta for at least 10 years, so make the most of it! And you're right, you need to stop on the way to the laundry basket to play some scales or Hanon, anything! Like Dory says just keep swimming, just keep playing! Good luck!

Nina said...

Grady, I'm so glad you picked up the trombone again! Thanks for the comment!

Cass, thanks!