Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Checking in

I realized it's been a while since I posted here. I'm not sure what I've been up to is all that interesting, from a musical standpoint, but I'll share a few things.

I'm still pondering on whether enrolling in the music program at the community college is a good idea. It seems to be a fairly casual sort of program. I called the music office a couple of days after I went in there to find out what I needed to do next, and the person I talked to said I just had to register for my classes (which I can do online) by August 25, and they would assign me to a teacher. I got the names and phone numbers of all the piano teachers anyway, thinking it might be a good idea to contact them to see if anyone is particularly simpatico, but I haven't done it yet.

I'm torn between two desires.

One: to keep the piano a pleasant hobby that I can pursue on my own terms. To keep my life simple and not stress myself out too much. To practice for five minutes one day and three hours the next, if that's what I feel like doing.

Two: to push myself to a higher level before I get too old to do it -- really, purely to see what it will be like, and to see if I even can improve that much.

My thinking at the moment is that maybe I'll try it for a semester, and if it proves too difficult or unpleasant, I'm not committed to continue. If it turns out to be worthwhile -- if I'm learning a lot and feel engaged in the process -- then I can press on, though I know I'd need to make some major adjustments to the terms of my day job.

In the meantime, I've been struggling along slowly with my practicing. For some reason, I've been having trouble finding large blocks of time for this, which does not bode well for the school idea -- or maybe it does, in the sense that if I had something riding on it, I would make the time.

The Bach prelude and fugue I chose this time, WTC I/19 in A major, are possibly the most difficult I've tried to learn, and it's been frustrating. The fugue is loaded with stretto (when the fugue theme overlaps in subsequent voices), and the accompanying voice lines are not pointedly melodic, so it's hard to memorize them.

I'm making some progress with Brahms Op. 118 No. 3. The form is a simple ABA, and I have a good chunk of it memorized.

The Beethoven sonata (Op. 2 No. 3 in C major) is making a lot more sense and is getting more under my fingers, at least the first movement.

The cello is sitting lonely in a corner.

And that's where things are with me this week.


Anonymous said...

Harriet, thanks for giving another adult learner a real glimpse into the life of a working musician. Your blog is fascinating and I've heard some of your recordings; to my untrained ear your playing on the cello and the piano are outstanding.

If I understood your posts, you already hold a Doctorate, so what could you possibly learn at any community college anywhere? You may be better qualified than the head of the music department, no? You probably could teach most of the classes offered at the community college and maybe pick up private lessons from another teacher on staff. I agree with your comment about how nice it feels to be on a campus and after reading your blog postings you write like someone who would be a very valuable instructor indeed, have you considered that? I'm surprised the head of the department didn't try to recruit you as a teacher - that's meant to be a compliment.

Now I'm going in search of a word to replace the title adult beginner/amateur because after reading posts and listening to your playing, I don't even qualify as a beginner/amateur.

I was sorry to read that someone at the Piano World forums (where I have lurked and learned much plus found my way to your nice blog) made an inappropriate and intellectually snob like comment. Ignore whoever that was... you know too much about music and without even realizing are imparting that to others like me who really appreciate your courage to put your self on the line for others to critique. I only wish I had one tenth of the: natural talent, drive to practice, and courage to have others hear you play as you. Your music and writing have touched me, I wish you all the best and please continue, you are something rare - a true professional.



P.S. I'm following Hugh Sung's Clair de Lune and loving it on Piano World adult beginner's forum.

Harriet said...

Jim, thank you for your kind words and for checking out my blog.

You would be surprised at the teacher quality at community colleges these days! So many people with music degrees are hurting for work that any school that has a job can probably pick and choose. All of the piano teachers at the college in my county (admittedly, in a large urban area) have doctorates in piano from good schools. So I think I could learn quite a bit from studying with any of them.