March 08, 2010

Faire du piano

So yeah, I play the piano now.

I’ve been taking lessons every week, from the same wonderful woman who teaches my two youngest kids, and I can play real songs even. My repertoire is pretty small: I can take requests so long as you ask for Edvard Grieg’s “Morning Mood” or Heinrich Wohlfahrt’s “Little Romance.”

I thought playing the piano would be an adjustment after 48 years of not playing any musical instrument, after a lifetime of not even knowing how to read music. I thought maybe I’d have to overcome some mental or emotional block. But really, the transition has felt completely natural.

Partly, this comes from living in a house full of musicians. If I want to know how a piece sounds, I just yell, “Someone come play this for me,” and one of the kids will come over and play the song for me. It helps to know what I’m aiming for. Shaggy Hair Boy and With-a-Why are good role models for anyone learning to play the piano: they have the attitude that you can learn anything you want so long as you practice it enough.

And of course, I already knew Piano Teacher, since she’s been teaching my kids for years. She takes the simple songs I can play just as seriously as the complex classical pieces that my sons play. “You did it!” she’ll say, after I’ve struggled through a couple of measures. Since most of her students are little kids, she always has stickers with her, and I’ll ask her to put a star on my page of music when I’ve accomplished something.

“Show that to your kids,” she’ll say, and we both laugh like crazy. I had wondered if it would bother me being so far behind my kids that I have no chance of ever catching up (if you could watch With-a-Why’s hands as he plays “Maple Leaf Rag,” or listen to Shaggy Hair Boy improvise on jazz numbers, you’d know what I mean), but playing the piano myself just makes me appreciate even more the talent of my kids. Even if I have to fight them sometimes to get practice time at the piano.

11 comments:

Audrey said...

Hooray for stickers for a job well done! :)

Lilian said...

I'm really happy for you, learning the piano is hard, but it's never too late to do it! (I'm not good at it AT ALL, but it's a good feeling to know I can do it).

dp said...

I am so impressed that you are taking piano lessons, let alone playing some songs. When my two young daughters had been in violin lessons for a couple of years (and I was running the strings program) I was pressured into joining the adult class. I, as well, was surrounded with musicians in the house but had never played. I only lasted 3 months but in that time, my respect for my 8 and 10 year olds.. and what they truly could do with their instruments quadupled!! My 40 year old hands could barely get to all the strings... I struggled with practice time.. but I loved every minute of the multi instrument practices we had in the mornings before school!!! Thanks for the memories and "way to go" Joe!

YourFireAnt said...

Jo(e), my brother used to say: Don't be afraid to be a rookie at something at ANY age. It'll keep your mind sharp.

T.

lizardek said...

I think it's so great that you are learning piano. And I would love to hear what Maple Leaf Rag sounds like (and Morning Mood, for that matter)...can't you post a soundclip or a video?

AliceAcademic said...

Go, you! Its great that you are so fearless about learning even though you were surrounded by people who were really good at it. I found it really hard to learn how to knit because I was surrounded by women who were so good at it while I was growing up. You'd think that would help, but it made me afraid somehow.

Melissa Sarno said...

That's great! So cool to learn something new and have success at it.
The piano is such a wonderful instrument- I'm jealous you have people playing it at your home all the time.

liz said...

YAY!!!

Rev Dr Mom said...

I am so impressed. I've been thinking for the last 4-5 years that I should learn to play an instrument. We don't have a piano, alas. But the Kid is interested in violin and cello now and that's got me thinking about one of those-- they would be easier to purchase...we'll see.

Keep it up!

skatey katie said...

love the boys' encouragement... of course you're totally awesome X

Terminal Degree said...

I'm so glad to hear that you're enjoying piano! I love working with my adult students--they learn fast, even though they think they're learning slowly--and they have such interesting lives!

Most of my college students love stickers, by the way. And I've found that a lot of the adult students do, too! I think it's because we all like a little reminder now and then that we're doing something right. :)

Keep up the great work!