Over the past few months I’ve noticed that when I mention to people that I started practicing piano again I get a variety of reactions. Most look at me like I just told them I took up a new hobby like quilt making or needlepoint. One suggested that it must be “relaxing” for me. My students usually give me a sidelong glance as if they’re wondering why I’d bother practicing piano at my age.
Luckily, most have no idea of all the musical “baggage” that accumulated over the years- the self-doubt, the performance nerves and the deterioration of technique from not practicing. There were the nagging thoughts that maybe I should be improvising and composing rather than playing music of dead composers. There were the times when making music was drudgery – hours of playing background music for a women’s bridge tournament and Christmas gigs with endless repetitions of I’ll Be Home For Christmas. There were horrible accompanying jobs (the orchestral reduction for the Jolivet bassoon concerto). And even while teaching the old saying “those who can’t play teach” would sometimes start running around in the back of my head.
These days I’m feeling very fortunate. I have the best group of students ever and I’m making the time to play the music I really want to play (such as this week’s Rachmaninoff’s Etude Tableau Op 33 No 8 in g minor). Of course, some things have changed around here. The TV hasn’t been on since the Superbowl. The beds go unmade most days and the laundry piles up. Meals are take-out or super-easy to prepare. The piano is priority. Each week (now at week #20) I become more determined to see this year through.
Oh yes, and speaking of other people’s reactions to this whole piano practice lifestyle…once in a while I get a wonderful response.
Last night my Twitter friend, Rhea Borja (@RheaB) messaged me that she was inspired by the Go Play Project to record Schumann-Liszt’s “Widmung.” Here’s her first take! Have a listen!
And follow along to get updates on new weekly recordings by clicking “like” on the Go Play Project Facebook page.
- The Pianist’s Sketchbook (goplayproject.wordpress.com)