Works in Progress
When I first heard about the group that got together every month to play the piano for each other, I felt that old constriction that I had known growing up when I would be asked to play the piano for anyone outside my immediate family. What if I made a mistake? What if I didn’t play it perfectly?
The first time I joined them to play, I quickly came to understand that this group was not about perfection. It was simply about the enjoyment of making music. In fact, many of them play the same piece month after month, with incremental improvement each time.
The first time I attended, I played a duet with Deborah since I had not signed on to play solo piano. After we played, they casually suggested that I play something by myself the next time.
So I perused my ancient library of music and found something I had played at probably age 12. It was a beautiful Grieg piece and as I practiced it I recalled how much I loved it as a child.
At that particular meeting I circulated photos from our trip to Norway for everyone to look at while I played, a sort of distraction. But then the piece was over and they clapped. I had made a couple of mistakes, but no one cared. That’s the whole point.
Yesterday was my fourth time to join the "Works in Progress" group. Deborah and I played the Bach sonata we had done at Chautauqua. It had a few tenuous moments but it was fine. We stopped mid-way in the second movement as we had warned them that we would, going just as far as what we had comfortably learned. But it was farther that we had ever gone.
For my piano solo piece yesterday I chose "Scratch My Bach", a parody on Bach by Peter Nero, that launches into a jazzy ending. It seemed appropriate to follow such high-brow music. It was far from perfect, but they all loved it.
I have quickly fallen into the drill of introducing my piece by explaining all the things that might go wrong, sort of laying out the excuses ahead of time. This is what "Works in Progress" entitles you to do. What a joy to finally get to the point where playing is so much fun and you simply dwell on what goes right and not what goes wrong.