My Keys to Relaxation

So, nearly two years ago already, I decided to use my tax return that year to buy a digital piano.  It was kind of an unusual choice – I’d never played any musical instrument in my life and couldn’t read music.  But I’d always enjoyed music and been intrigued by learning to play the piano. So, while previously I’d been too self-conscious and intimidated to do so, I dove in.

Over the first year, I took two community college classes – learned to read music and the basics.  Early on, all I really wanted to do was play Beethoven (not real Beethoven, but simple arrangements of some famous pieces).  They were my favorites and that’s what I wanted to play.

After my classes were over, I’ve begun taking private lessons.  At first, I thought I just wanted to work on more repertoire pieces (read: more Beethoven, maybe some Bach, I supposed), but after our first sessions we began working on fingering exercises, working in different keys, and practice pieces from all sorts of genres (traditional, folk, classical, even blues! ).  At first, I was like pffft bring on the Beethoven!, but as we’ve gone on, I’ve appreciated the new techniques and styles.  And she’s focused me to be a better sight-reader, rather than a memorizer.

Anyway, I guess my point is that this has been a great experience for me.  I look forward to coming home and playing/practicing for a while.  It’s a wonderful way to dismiss any other cares of the day for a while and get lost in it.  I find it very relaxing (now I find I get a little edgy if I don’t find the time to practice for a couple of days).  I’m not sure that I have an artistic side – but I love learning – and the learning more about music itself – notes, chords, rhythms, keys has been a blast.

And I think I’m getting better.  I don’t think that I’m ready for any truly complicated pieces by Chopin, Liszt, Molden, or Debussey, but I’m getting there.  The one thing I’ve noticed the most is that the “time from beginning to making something sound reasonable” has shrunk, and that makes me happy.

So, if I can convey anything, it’s that if I can do this (learn something with no background experience) than you can too!  Don’t be intimidated, just try.  Get a book, take a cheap class, do it.

Now if I could only get her to add a little more Beethoven into the mix.

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26 thoughts on “My Keys to Relaxation

  1. I used to play when I was younger, but my brother was so incredibly gifted that I felt inferior most of the time so I quit. I do wish I'd stuck with it, though. Maybe I'll go back to taking some lessons. I can still read music and play Fur Elise, so that's a start, eh?

  2. That's terrific! So few people that learn an instrument as an adult stick with it (myself included; I once experimented with cello). It's nice to hear you tried something totally new and loved it. I feel like what I learned about music, especially when I first learned in junior high, gave me a deep appreciation for art in general.

  3. that's so great!i didn't realize that you went into it without any experience! that's awesome.we're going to get mia a piano when she's a little older. i wish i kept playing… i SUCK now… i was almost GOOD before. hehe. i am looking forward to playing with piano with her. :)i'm going to blow my tax refund this year on booze and cheap hookers. maybe NEXT year will be the piano. :P hehe.

  4. I really hope that when I'm done with school I can take up piano. Not sticking with it is something I've always regretted.
    They say there's a correlation between science/math and music. I guess it's the patterned, systematic aspect of both. I think studies have been done, actually, that show that musical training helps students do better in the math & science arena. (Which you probably already know.) In your case, the math & science training helped you learn music!

  5. I have an album of Beethoven's piano sonatas and it is by far my favorite piano or classical music. I took nine years of piano lessons and I wish I hadn't stopped, but I did finally get a keyboard in my apartment and I play all the time, though I don't feel as though I'm getting much better.

  6. I don't think you would want to play any Molden. Terrible stuff. =PIf you want to hit up some Chopin, check out Prelude in C Minor, Op. 28 No. 20. Beautiful and relatively tame note-wise, it would be a good way for you to work on voicing. :-D

  7. That relaxation feeling you mentioned reminds me of my 10 year old. She's about 7 months into piano lessons, and I've never once had to remind her to go practice. She'll just go up to the spare room, shut the door, and start playing. She's come a long way in a short time, and I have a hard time not being jealous of her gift or her dedication to it. (I know, bad, bad mommy!)
    You go, Guy! What an accomplishment!

  8. I love your piano. I miss mine. I tried to talk my parents into giving it to me the other day.I like "Clair de Lune" by DeBussey. But, um, that might have a little — or a lot — to do with Twilight. :)I'm sure you could totally outplay me by now. I only play popular stuff these days — I've finally mastered "Apologize" and "What Goes Around." Definitely not on par with Beethoven.

  9. My favorite piece is Dvorak's "Overture for the New World." When I was in my early 20's I went though a period of depression. I would play this and it would make me feel better, soothing and uplifting. Now it reminds me of my triumph over this period in my life- a celebration.

  10. grrrrace — how ironic — this year I think I'm going to spend it on
    booze and cheap hookers, or is that cheap hookers and booze?

    I bet you and Mia are going to have fantastic duets together.

  11. Mello — I can definitely see the connection between music and
    math. I think maybe that's one of the reasons I like it so
    much. (One of my favorite old posts talks about it a little.)

    I hope you get a chance to indulge yourself a little after you're finished with school — you deserve the treat!

  12. Jen — I kind of love my piano too. Its really nice, and creates
    a good sound. We've talked about the "someday" of getting an
    actual baby-grand here for the house — but I like this little guy.

    Oh — and I'm not sure I could play rings around anybody!! =P

  13. Zak — its funny — I looked back and in my very first post
    about piano, a really simple Dvorak arrangement of one of the themes
    from "New World" was the only thing that cracked my
    Beethoven-set. Funny.

  14. Get a CD of "New World". The dynamic range and the way it stirs emotions is incredible. Antonin Dvorak was on tour in America from his native Bohemia this work was to honor America. I think that I read that he was disappointed in his reception from the American Czech community.

  15. The complete title: The Symphony No. 9, in E Minor "From the New World" (Op. 95). It was composed in 1893 during Dvorak's visit to the United States from 1893- 1895.

  16. I just went back and read your old post and [this is good]. That was really interesting! There's a show on Discovery called "Some Assembly Required" and in one episode the guy follows a Steinway being made. Really cool – although not near the detail of your book (which sounds really cool also). What fascinated me is that after all the intricate work putting the piano together, the final instrument is tuned by ear. I guess there are some things that machinery just can't duplicate.
    Music + science = awesome.

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