Sunday, April 20, 2014

Those Ivories. Non-knitting Post

Warning:  This post has no pretty pictures of yarn, and is totally self-involved b.s. reflections.

Though I rarely mention it, ivories (piano keys) and ebonies (organ keys) are as intertwined in my life as eating, sleeping, knitting, relationships, and bodily functions.
Does one retire from such activity?   I suppose one does if something physical happens to prevent the movement of fingers. But now I'm not sure.  In the past few years, I've noticed my little fingers, and they seem to be my main topic when I address playing issues.  I feel like they don't want to take part anymore.  But, I drag them along, and recruit their services.  Just like any repetitive activity, I don't think too much about the mechanics of it, just the surprise factor when something doesn't turn out as expected.
What have I learned in 60 years?  From sitting on a bench in front of 88 keys, I've learned to relate a diagram (printed music) to my movements on the keyboard.  And out comes sounds that are pleasant. Mostly!  That's where the little fingers literally fall short occasionally, and the sounds are not there or (cringe) unpleasant.   I've learned to expect more from my fingers, but nothing is going to bring them back to their former selves.  They are crooked, and one is too flexible, and the other isn't flexible. Even so, the change has been gradual, and my mind and hands have adapted.
For those of you in a similar situation, my only recommendation is focus... Dang, the "f" word again. Focus with the form of the ultimate non-technical tool:  A pencil. Really!  I've found my best weapon against embarrassing goofs is a pencil.  If something goes wrong, and I can locate it, a little/big/dark circle around the problem is my best defense.  There is so much on each page, and my eye needs just that mark to bring focus to something that I need to focus on.
Sounds simple doesn't it?  It is, along with thousands of hours...
So here comes the computation...  Sixty years times 52 weeks = 3120 weeks. Say I have played an average of 2 hours a week over my lifetime... I recall weeks of twenty hours as an accompanist, and weeks of none, so I'm being conservative... And giving myself 6,240 lifetime hours.
There have been services this weekend, shared by ivories and ebonies, and the music goes on. Apprehension always precedes these events...I am my own worst enemy until I start playing!  If my fingers are actively participating, as happens in the days/hours before performance, I feel very insecure.
I wonder what I would be reflecting on if my mommy hadn't decided to take me to piano lessons in September 1954?

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