Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Two Practices in Three Days!

Yes! I have practiced George twice in three days! A veritable record, after my five-plus year sabbatical from piano!

Tonight's practice focused on measure 12, where we have a series of two-against-three with the RH playing the triplets.

I worked really hard on (once again) getting my muscle-memory back, but I also focused on not getting just the muscle memory back. I want to know exactly what I'm playing; I want to be able to dive into the middle of a measure and pick up as if I'd started at the very beginning of the piece. So I worked hard on both understanding what I was playing and retraining my fingers to play the right notes.

It was a fun practice. I love focused practices where I can work on just one measure, or a half a measure for a good thirty minutes or more. (And that's about how long this practice lasted, after doing some D-flat major scales, inversions, and arps.)

I realize this isn't a very long or interesting update, but at least it's an update. Now it's time to go put the kid to bed.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Last Published December 13, 2010??

Yes, that the first thing I read when I opened up this blog. I haven't published to it in over four years. Sadly enough, I haven't even practiced piano in over four years. My kid just turned five. Coincidence? I think not.

But I can't blame my lack of piano-interest on her. I'm not blaming it on anyone, or anything. Life just yanked me into a new phase, one that's been nothing like I ever imagined. When I last posted, I had a one-year-old child and was working full time as a technical writer at a software company. Since then, I've taught numerous classes as an adjunct English instructor, changed residences twice, been unemployed, written a novel, and worked several jobs. (I quit the technical writing job for good in 2012.) Add a couple of nervous breakdowns major depressive episodes into the mix, and piano just hasn't been a presence (though it might have helped stave off some of the depression).

Motherhood has been hard. Of course it's been hard. It isn't easy for anyone. Even when a child is as sweet-natured, smart, and healthy as mine is, it's never easy. I'm tired all the time. I've been tired all the time for more than five years straight. And I turn forty-five in ten days. It ain't gettin' any easier, at least not anytime soon.

I imagined that I'd be a mom who practiced piano all the time. It would be so nice because then my child would take it for granted, from the very beginning, that piano practice was every bit as vital as eating or drinking or sleeping or pooping. I imagined she would grow up steeped in the music of Mozart and Beethoven and Bach and Chopin.

Oh, I imagined a lot.

But no one told me how tired I would be all the time. And how little time there would be for "me" things, once dinner, dishes, bath, bedtime stories, etc., were done each day. And if one more childless person says, "Oh, then you should just wake up really early in the morning!" I think I'm going to scream. Really. I'm too tired to wake up in the morning.

But enough complaining. I didn't open this blog up again to complain. I love being my kid's mom, even though it's meant putting myself and my own interests on the back burner indefinitely. "I wouldn't change a thing," as they say.

No. That's not true. But I'm not going to waste time thinking of what could, would, or should have been.

Let's talk about piano!

My piano teacher (I should say "ex-" or "former" piano teacher, but I can't bring myself to do that) posted a YouTube video of herself playing my favorite Chopin nocturne (Op. 9, No. 1) on Facebook yesterday. My daughter and I listened to it, and it was so beautiful that I felt inspired to dust off the old Nocturnes book and see if I could still play any semblance of that same nocturne.

And guess what! I could play it! Considering how long it had been since I'd played it, it didn't sound half-bad! I played a few other things and was at the piano for maybe an hour. No, not that long. Maybe thirty or forty minutes. Long enough to get that manic little high that piano-practice always gives me.

And then my daughter "practiced" five or six times yesterday. She dragged out her "Music for Little Mozarts" piano book and practiced playing low and high notes, soft and loud. She wanted to play piano. Because she wants to be like Mommy.

That's when I realized I need to start practicing again. It's good for me, and it's particularly good for her. Maybe she'll never be a pianist or any kind of musician, but she can learn that George (a.k.a. "Old Dusty") is there to be played, and enjoyed. And loved.

So I practiced this morning. I focused on B-flat minor for my scales and arpeggios. And then I worked on the B-flat minor nocturne, focusing on two main elements:

  • The left hand (LH) in measures three and four - keeping it even and steady so that the right hand notes can flit among its branches, contrasting
  • The right hand (RH) in measure four - relearning the notes, getting the "feel" of them back so that they can flit and float and dance without my thinking too hard about it.
Here's a lovely picture of what I worked on today:

February 8, 2015: Practice, Chopin Nocturne in B-flat Minor (Op. 9, No. 1)

I didn't play hands together (HT) too much, other than near the very end of the practice session. I'm mainly working on re-learning the notes. No, that's not exactly right. I want to relearn the notes, but I'm also working on conjuring back up the muscle memory I'd built when learning this piece before. And it's coming back. Somewhat slowly, but more quickly than I'd have imagined after not playing for so long.

Will I practice again soon? Will I post here again within the next five years? Who know. I sure hope I will. For my daughter's sake, and for mine too, I hope I will.