Back to the Bench

In science, the phrase “back to the bench” typically means a return to the laboratory after a period of not doing experiments – usually caused by writing papers or grants, or in my case becoming a (gasp) manager.

Now my minions laugh themselves silly whenever I suggest that I’m going to perform an experiment more difficult than making the next pot of coffee.  Its good theater – I act all indignant and remind them of science in the old days, where we had to make all our chemicals from scratch starting from nothing but ammonia and sea shells – and we were damn happy to do it.  They shake their heads and walk away.  Dang whippersnappers…

Anyway, the bench I’m getting back to is the piano bench.  After the move to The Aerie and all the busy-ness and illness of the summer, my adherence to a strict practice schedule wavered.  But the other week, I determined to get back to tickling the ivories (note: my piano keys are not ivory – no animals were harmed in its construction).  I began practicing my previous pieces (including this Bach minuet in G-minor which I finally got) and looked in earnest for private lessons.

Last night, I had my first lesson with a private teacher.  It was a little weird – I don’t like being scrutinized while I play (it was much easier in the relative anonymity of the classroom setting) but I know that this is really the best way to improve.  She heard “my repertoire” and by the end I got over the nervousness I usually feel playing in front of someone.  We also practiced technique – which is something I really want to concentrate on.  Apparently, my fingering is fine, but my sight-reading leaves a little to be desired.  So, I know what I’ll be practicing this week.

Also, I’ll want to add new pieces and I think this one by Schubert (Winterreise) will be one that I go for.

Its good to be back.

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16 thoughts on “Back to the Bench

  1. You got me – I totally thought this was going to be a story about science! I often wonder if I'd be competent on the bench, but then I remember that I like teaching because in my world, everything works the way it's supposed to. Even if it doesn't, I make it.
    Anyway, good for you for getting back into piano! Sometimes starting up on something after time away can be so hard. My band teacher used to make me sightread (it was part of chair auditions too) and I actually got to be ok at it – it definitely gets easier the more you do it. It can be a fun way to challenge yourself.

  2. I had laid my dream of ever really playing the piano aside. Now you have me thinking perhaps it isn't too late after all. Good for you for getting back to it! I expect a youtube video of "Winterreise" when you master it!

  3. that is so awesome that you're getting back to a passion, especially an artistic one such as music. I've always wished I could play the piano, however I lack both the discipline to learn and the instrument to learn on. I don't imagine my modest apartment would look all that spacious if there were a baby grand sittiing in the living room…

    ooh, on second though, I wonder if Cori would mind movin' out the dining room table; afterall, we both hate it very much!

  4. I took five years of private lessons as a kid, and I haven't played for about 15 years (well, not counting chopsticks, mary had a little lamb, and other kid ditties that don't require music). The recitals were nerve-wracking so that's part of why I quit. I do miss it sometimes, and I applaud (ha! sorry for the pun) you for getting back to the bench to refine your skills.

  5. I'm the same as Janette, I took lessons almost my whole childhood but then quit cold turkey in high school. I'm sad that I never progressed any further than I did, and have always thought I might take it up again as an adult. You're an inspiration for me to do just that!! Have fun!

  6. i haven't played piano in SOOOO long. i want to get my old piano back from my parents so mia can learn. i hope she's more committed to it than i was. :)and i'm glad you are getting back to it! :D that's awesome! :)

  7. Pondy — I don't know about the baby grand, but I got a nice digi-piano that has great sound and fits in a corner.
    Now if we could just work on that self-discipline…. ;)

  8. I was VERY worried for a second there… I'm glad you are taking about that other bench. Us minions like it when you walk by an just nod, everybody is happier that way, and your bench is still just an extension of my bench!

  9. You've inspired me to get back to my bench also — since getting married I've had no time to play the piano — what with taking care of 6 other people besides myself!! Before it was just taking care of me mostly, and my daughter every other week — its an adjustment!! :-) one that I'm thankful for by the way. Blessings to you Steve!

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