i just started eighth notes tonight.
eighth notes. i believe in them.
my belief in the morning is no stronger.
i believe in cucumbers too.
and now eighth notes.
they and there beauty
grab me by the balls and say
they are half a quarter note.
and they look like music.
Good King Wenceslas, or When am I a piano player?
Me:(taking my hands off the keys): So when do you think I can call myself an actual piano player?
Sara-Jane (my teacher):(amused) Right now.
Me:No, I mean really. When am I a piano player? How long?
Sara-Jane:I'm serious. Right now. You are a piano player.
Me:I don't know. It's not like I can play any real songs.
Sara-Jane:You just played Good King Wenceslas.
Me:I know, but --
Sara-Jane:--That's a real song.
Me:Yeah, I suppose, but it's not like --
Sara-Jane:-- And you read music.
Sara-Jane:Go out on the street right now and see how many people can do that. You're a piano player.
Me:Okay. You win.
Sara-Jane:I, on the other hand ...
Sara-Jane:I don't know about me. I'm not as good as I used to be. I need to play more.
Me:Hah! See ...
I am breaking from the tradition of this site, but this is too good to ignore.
I don’t make a habit of posting on Tumblr about tragedy. It feels shallow; and I know you all don’t care about my position on news in the “real world”. But I did want to take a moment to encourage you to read this article written about the Columbine School shootings in 1999 by Marilyn Manson. I have been thinking a lot today about the shooting in Colorado, about the way the media has handled it — from plastering online news media with images of the shooter’s face to blaming comic books and video games for violence (though I have been relieved to see that more of the blame is being cast at gun-control laws).
This article was written before I could open my laptop and be inundated with images of tragedy, with clips of crying parents, with links to “graphic” videos taken with cell phones inside the theater. It is an essay fearing exactly that. A future that has become our present. Regardless what you think of Marilyn Manson (I, for one, don’t really care about him at all), it is worth reading and thinking about. It is relevant to you, Tumblr users and citizens of internet social media. Trust me.
my robot redux
i played again last night. it’s been about a month arleady. fuck i love the piano. i played “my robot,” my favourite song, and i was in a place approximating heaven (as close as one can get for an atheist anyway). piano is sooooooo good.
last night was my first monday without piano since i started. it’s over now until september, at least the lessons are over. i am going to play tonight before bed. i miss the structure already.
bronze and silver
my eight year old twins performed in their first music festival a couple of weeks ago, and i’ve wanted to say something about their performances ever since. but it wasn’t their performances that really attracted my attention (i’d heard them practising their pieces for three months, so their performances were nothing new to me); it was they way they went through the experience that blew my mind.
bronte was nervous. much nervier going in than milos. but once she sat in the queue waiting her turn to play her whole body became still, she sat tall and watched her competition. she wasn’t tight like piano wire; she was a muscle at rest, remembering action, ready to tighten and spring, but saving all that potential energy for the correct moment. and her moment came first, and she took to the stage like a pro. her performance was solid, technically near perfect, and she displayed poise. she came off stage full of joy, not basking egotistically in applause or feeling any sort of superiority, simply feeling comfortable in a job well done — she was satisfied.
i’m her dad. she’s beautiful to me. but anyone seeing her in that moment couldn’t help but be struck by her beauty — i’ve no doubt.
milos was different. he had no nerves going in, at least none that were on display. he was going because it was required. there was no excitement nor any fear. just a sense of duty. but when he sat in that queue, just behind bronte, he started to tense up in the way he does — by checking out. his body bounced and weaved and bobbed and balled up, and he wanted to be at home playing with his lego. when he performed, a more difficult piece than the one bronte chose, he didn’t freeze or falter, but it was literally the first time he’d had to use the pedals on the piano. he plays on a keyboard at home. no pedals. and he had zero practices with the pedals before his performance. he knew when and how to use them, but had no practical experience. he was forced to pause and find his bearings more than once. but it didn’t faze him. he finished. he bowed. and for him the experience was over and forgotten. duty done, he was clearly thinking, “what next?”
i’m his dad, and i was envious of that ability. how can anyone just let things like that go? three months of practises invested in one performance. the performance comes. the performance goes. and he wasn’t changed or phased or impressed in any way.
bronte received silver. milos received bronze.
My rough week culminated in my weekly lesson, and I fully expected to suck, but once I sat down and started playing, I actually did really well. I know where the notes are. I read the music and I just know, and so long as the notes in the song are the notes I’ve learned I can nail the song pretty fast. It feels like improvement. It feels pretty damn good, actually.
Not a single note played. I haven’t touched the keys. Not once. All alone with no backup. Three kids to love and take care of. No breaks. The only time alone is when my eyes are closed. No music. I am missing it big time.
I’ve started to learn theory. I’ve reached a point in my lessons where I can begin to apply what I’ve learned to the intellectual side of piano and music, which should translate back into better play when I’m on the keys.
It’s simple stuff at the moment, mostly review of the concepts I learned in the first semester of piano, but it’s another small step that makes me feel like I am doing the right thing for me. I am starting to dream of playing in front of people someday. Maybe when I am sixty I’ll start a band: i.m. ruzz on drums; me on keyboards; milos on bass; te on guitar; scout lead vocals.