Friday, August 21, 2009

What to Play

One of the advantages of taking things like piano lessons as an adult is how much power you have. You can quit if you don’t like the teacher without pissing off your parents. And instead of playing whatever the teacher chooses for you, you have the right to say, “No, I really don’t like that piece.”

My 75-year-old teacher and I are still working the music thing out. When I started, she had it in her mind that I would gradually work my way through what she considers to be the standard classical repertory. But I keep hearing things on the radio that I want to play, which are sometimes far afield from those old warhorses.

Like the Bolcom rags, for example. Although they are devilishly hard to play, she keeps tossing them off as though Joplin and Bolcom and those guys who wrote this kind of music were somewhat off the beaten track. And they probably were, but something about those chords warms my heart.

I spent most of yesterday’s lesson sight-reading her suggestions for my next piece or two, mostly rejecting pieces by Liszt, Schumann, Schubert, von Weber, and probably several others, not because they weren’t lovely, but simply because they didn’t do anything for me. I obviously want something that I can’t just sight-read. And if I’m going to spend the time to learn it, I want to love it, not just like it.

I came home and ordered some new music. But I also resolved to tell my teacher I want to keep working on the pieces I’m currently playing until I feel I have gone as far as I can with them. If she wants to be a part of that process, I will welcome her help, but if not I may take a little break and finish them myself.

I have finally learned the lesson that if I take on too much music at once, I don’t enjoy sitting down to practice and I don’t learn any of it well.

I do like this aspect of being an adult student. I rather enjoy knowing I have a say in things.


Blogger Steve said...

I've often toyed with the idea of taking piano lessons as an adult -- when I took them as a kid I was too young to really appreciate the opportunity, you know? I just hated to practice! But now you've got me thinking I really need to look into it...

6:36 PM  
Blogger lettuce said...

good for you Barbara.
theres a lot to be said for holding out for what you want

4:57 AM  
Blogger Kellyann Brown said...

What? No Chopin? I bet a polinaisse would blast your sensibilities!

2:05 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kelly -- I spent a year of my life learning the Military Polannaise. I much prefer shorter Chopin now. I bought at book of his Ballades which I will begin working on in the fall.

2:32 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Steve -- You should take lessons. Of course that might entail buying a piano. But then you and Dave could play duets. There must be something written for piano-tuba.

Lettuce -- That's the benefit of being an adult.

2:34 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Good for you. These lessons are about you and you should enjoy the music you play.

8:41 AM  

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