The piano in your mind.

Not sure how many readers will know this (as I have no idea your demographic), but I used to be a musician. In fact, music was my first career choice prior to going to Art College (I gave up the dream after a series of University auditions that spanked my immature little pride on her tender little arse.  Probably mistake #1, but oh well.  Can’t change history).

Hobbies coexisting

Robin and I decided that we would use this year to start making improvements in our lives. Seeing as how guitars are fairly portable, we saved some cash and began shopping around. For Yule, I gave him a copy of “Rocksmith“, and we’ve been using it to keep ourselves engaged with learning (and working through the development of calluses). Mum and Dad also gave us a video series on DVD that should be useful once we have a little more competency.

An extra 110 pages, Ms Wood? Really?

Being the veteran musician, I delved into the book section of St John’s Music (after wistfully touching All The Pianos). When I emerged, I had a brand-new copy of Barbara Wharram’s “Elements of Music”, which I had used so many years ago to study for my Theory Exams. I also picked up “Theory for Beginners” for Robin, and the fact that it’s geared toward children causes no end of amusement. The purpose here is to dust the cobwebs off my theory knowledge. There are times when I can smugly say “I know the answer to that”, times when I ask “I knew the answer to that?” and times where I wonder if they totally rewrote the book and crammed it full of new information.

The answer to that last question is actually yes. Yes, it’s been edited and has approximately 110 more pages than the original edition.  I know this because I got curious and dug out my old theory book. I *thought* I detected elements of basic harmony in my stock-standard rudiments book! How dare they get their chocolate in my peanut butter! 😉

At any rate, a fun thing has happened as I’ve been toiling away. The piano in my head has started playing again.  No, it’s not something I should talk over with a mental health professional – it means I’m recognizing what I’m looking at and starting to visualize it in my mind. It isn’t playing in tune, mind you (I don’t have perfect pitch), but when I have the time to think about where I’m going, I associate the lines and spaces on the staff with the recognizable patterns on a piano, down to its position from middle C. It seems to work well enough that I’m actually enjoying my theory revision.

Also, the tunes that wander through your mind when your brain is just kinda idling? My internal jukebox has started playing classical piano.  Beethoven’s Opus 27 No.2 in C# minor (Moonlight Sonata), Bach’s Inventions and Sinfonias, Chopin’s Nocturnes….mostly music from my 8th grade piano exam, but with some notable additions.

10 to 12 years of Piano Education in one place

It has forced me to re-evaluate a rather large chunk of my personality that I had buried deeply for a long time – the musician. I wasn’t anywhere close to being a concert pianist, but that was never my goal. I wanted to play, to learn, and to teach. Somehow I became convinced that the only way I could do this was to get my Bachelor of Music and that my ARCT (highest level of Royal Conservatory) would take care of itself during University. When that didn’t happen, I gave up. Nobody told me that I could stay home for another few years, finish my Grades 9 and 10, then do my ARCT while teaching basic piano. The expectation was that you took piano lessons when you were a kid, then you went to college.  I fell back on my second choice and went away the next year.

There are a lot of choices that I’m sure we would make differently if we were better informed. I keep reminding myself that while I didn’t go where I planned, I’ve had a pretty good adventure so far, and met some pretty awesome people on the path I’ve been taking. It doesn’t rule out rediscovering old loves. Musically, I don’t feel much different than the 20-something who put away her piano books and got on a plane to Toronto. I feel a bit more organized and in control of my goals (hooray maturity!). The fact that I’m slowly, but surely, learning an instrument that had me completely boggled at age 13 (I always envied my friend Kathy her guitar skills) gives me hope that I can brush off my own mad skills, pick up where I left off, and get back to learning.  I may decide to go for that long-coveted ARCT. I may decide just to play for fun. It will be another adventure!

(yes, the first step would be to actually get a piano in the house. We’re looking at going digital, as we don’t have either the money or space for an acoustic at this time. The quality of digitals has gone up considerably since I was in high school, and the price is comparable to a good quality laptop, so we have some saving to do).