Thursday, September 16, 2010

Play It Again, Sam

Unfortunately, playing the piano is not like riding a bicycle. We do, indeed, forget. The fruits of all those years of practice, music festivals, and Royal Conservatory exams have not stuck with me. 

Memories of going blank in the finals of a festival have stuck with me, and I still get a flutter in my stomach when I pass by the signs around the college for the Royal Conservatory exams. But, I now have an only slightly better than vague familiarity with key and time signatures, music theory, and the names of the notes farthest afield from middle C. Also,the hands aren't as nimble as they used to be.

A few years ago, I got a very nice keyboard, and thought that I would sit and play for the sheer enjoyment of it as I used to - perhaps I would have to back up a grade or two, maybe start with seven or eight, but as I backed up farther and farther through my old music books, I realized just how rusty I was. I couldn't believe how much I had forgotten, how much work it would be to bring back the skills and knowledge. Serious practice.

I have decided to play it again and have ordered some books, dug out some sheet music and practice books and am going to sit down to play scales and chords and figure out those keys again - how many flats in that piece?!?!


Judie said...

I could have written your post! When we moved here from Memphis, I left my piano with my daughter. I have really missed it! And when I went back to Atlanta to take care of Mum, I spent a lot of time at her piano realizing just what I had forgotten! I would play every day if I had a piano here! It was always a stress-releaser for me.

ChrisJ said...


A great stress-releaser; I used to sit and play for an hour or two sometimes.

Trulyfool said...


Understanding key signatures and picking them out by ear -- a hermetic art, to me, but as exciting as find the Lost City of Cibola.

Never a keyboardist, I may buy a (4-octave?) one and just piddle with simple harmonies. Whatevah!

I was a trumpeteer in my youth, able to play a chord in sequence, but I didn't know that that was what I was doing.

Sounded like a violin then. Can't even warm the mouthpiece now.


ChrisJ said...


Piddling around is exactly what I have been doing, but have decided to do more than that. We'll see how well I stick to the practicing!

Hels said...

Oh Chris, thanks for the memories.

I didn't ever learn piano, but I did do ballet for many years. The exams were set by the Royal Academy in Britain, and the examiners were sent out to Australia (and all other British Commonwealth countries, I would imagine) for one month every year.

My ballet-loving granddaughter found all my old examination report folders, with the final results, earlier this year and was very impressed. Now we discuss ballet all the time!

But if I tried to dance now, I would hospitalise myself with some tragic joint, bone or muscle injury :(

ChrisJ said...


Dancers have it much harder than do pianists. Mostly, I'm getting brain strain and stiff hands.

Your granddaughter must be so impressed with you, and I bet ballet-dancing grandmother will form the part of her identity that seeks something "cool."

Judie said...

I'm really sorry that I let my daughter have that piano! I could have used it as a stress reliever many times over the years!

ChrisJ said...


Maybe I've started something here. Is there a keyboard or piano in your future?

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