Back in the Saddle

Eighteen months ago I finished the last recording of my 2012 Go Play Project where I recorded one piano piece every Sunday night for a year. Since then I’ve downsized considerably, sold two houses, moved, and started a new job.

However there was one unexpected consequence from my year at the piano. I began to wonder if my whole piano playing intensive was a bad idea – a project better left for someone else. After all I had finished out the year with the music of Medtner and Scriabin, beautiful works that I had only recently been introduced to.

But something had happened that I was reluctant to blog about.  Hard to believe, but I had actually developed an aversion to the sound of the piano. Yes. It’s true. After blogging about piano playing, performance, accompanying, teaching, and more teaching, and then practicing every week for a year….I craved silence.

I boxed up all my music. Gave my “teaching” music to a new teacher in town.

And then I sold my piano.

This was major.

I started piano at age 8 and played almost every day until my late twenties. Even after that, I couldn’t imagine not living with a piano. Not being able to sit down whenever I wanted to and read through Chopin and Beethoven. Sometimes practicing was more intense. Other times an evening of sight-reading would be enough.

Now there was nothing.

But wait. There was life after piano. I started remembering the things that I loved to do when I didn’t “have to” practice. The idea of “reinvention” became very appealing. I didn’t have to be Cathy, the piano teacher, any more. I toyed with the idea of going into real estate. I took a class in medical terminology. I began to feel like a regular person.

And I wrote. I completed two screenplays during the past two years. One is in very competent Hollywood hands right now. The other is waiting for a re-write.

I’ve also been itching to pick up a pencil and draw again. For some reason drawing was always saved for a special occasion when I was growing up. It was a treat to pull out paper and crayons.

And so that brings me to today. Inspired by my friend, Judy Leeson Polstra, who’s started her own “Go Play Project” on the piano, I’ve decided to jump back on the horse (please check out Devon Combs’s Beyond The Arena site as she kindly let me use her image for this post). I’m going to try my hand at another “GPP.” This time I’m going to sketch a little illustration every day for the month of August. It’s not much and, to any artist, it’s a joke. But to someone like me who’s not even a doodler, this will be a challenge.

Follow along as I post each day. And jump in any time with your own “Go Play Project.” I’d love to hear about it. As Judy said to me, “Less Fear. More Fun. That’s what this should be all about.

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3 thoughts on “Back in the Saddle

  1. I’m surprised to feel profoundly disappointed after reading your entry–this is after all a very personal decision that you made to live the life you now wish to have. However, I can’t quite understand how the project could have led you to such a drastic decision as casting off your piano (although the word “burnout” does come to mind 😦

    If I thought I could sustain the pace, I’d try to duplicate your project–it’s been truly inspirational! I have decided to devote my retirement years to playing repertoire I never had time to learn during a lifetime of librarianship (there will be plenty of Scriabin and Medtner!). And, yes, there will be time for painting and writing too…

    I do hope that you ultimately make peace with the part of you that plays the piano — there’s really nothing quite like it!

    • I appreciate your thoughts, and I definitely haven’t ruled out going back to piano, but to use an overused phrase… “it’s complicated.”

      Part of me will always be comparing myself to myself at 21 when it was nearly effortless to perform pieces like the Liszt Sonata and the Bartok Out of Doors. And there’s another part that would always wonder “what if” if I don’t explore other avenues of life and creativity.

      Please do join in with your own project — even if it’s just learning one piece over the course of a month or two. I’d love to hear about it! …maybe make it something by Medtner…:-)

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