Fate's Piano Adventures

Piano Pictures, Images and Photos

Fin recently decided to dive into aquariums and has been some awesome things with our tanks. We now have four active running aquariums, with varying degrees of decor. For a while, we’d both been just coming home and watching TV. But, seeing her interest in taking up a hobby, I’ve decided to get reinvolved in another long running hobby of mine: the piano.

I’ve “played at” the piano for roughly 20 years now, and after 2 decades of playing, you’d think I would have achieved some mystical level of awesomeness. While the knowledge of piano has been floating around my brain for 20 years, I’ve only actively played for roughly 9 or 10 years. And of those, I received formal training for roughly 2 or 3 years. Playing actively for multiple years, then taking a multi-year hiatus results in going back in time abit and having to relearn.

In my high school days, I developed a list of pieces I wanted to be able to play, and started trying to knock them off one by one. I hit a rather massive brick wall on Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in G minor. I played it for a few months, but it always sounded forced, strained, and mistake filled in playing.

This was only the 3rd piece in my list… My tastes have changed a bit, though I still really like a lot of Rachmaninoff in general. Were I to take on one of Rachmaninoff’s preludes now, I’d probably go after G Sharp Minor Op. 32 No. 12. That said, I’m putting more advanced pieces on “pause” for the time being.

I believe every pianist has 3 levels of playing – “polished”, “sortof”, and “delusional”. A child walks up to the piano, starts tinkering, and may develop a delusional playing level of Horowitz or Mozart. Then, a teacher gets a hold of them and either starts pushing their actual playing level up (letting them decide where they’re at), or crushes the delusion making them quit altogether. At first, the “polished” and “sortof” levels stay very close, but some pupils go out and venture into other more advanced works they want to play, perhaps before they have the skill or technique to do it. More advanced pieces can move up “polished”, but in my experience only moved up “sortof”.

So right now, I can “sortof” play various pieces from Chopin, Liszt, and Rachmaninoff. But, pieces I can polish and play convincingly (make it sound like it should and add my own feeling to) are on the same level of a 2nd or 3rd year piano student. And some of my “foundations” are more remedial than that. When I started “playing at” the piano again, I decided that I wanted to venture out into other types of playing – Jazz, Blues, Standards. Quickly, I discovered that my high level of “sortof” couldn’t overcome my very low “polished” level. And then, I realized that I had deluded myself into believing I was better than I was (at least in terms of technique). So, I went on Craig’s list in search of a piano teacher, found one, took lessons for a couple months, then crashed and burned, deciding to just “noodle” and not worry about learning for real.

Then, a few weeks ago, something clicked in my head on some of the advice the piano teacher had given me. Sadly, while she was a good player, I don’t think she was the best at teaching, being relatively new (I doubt she was giving intermediate-advanced lessons for more than a couple years, if that). So now, I’m playing again and advancing at a steady pace. Every now and then I take one of the “sortof” pieces of the shelf and discover that I can no longer play a section or can mystically play a section better. The sections I can no longer play, generally tend to be those that never sounded “right” in the first place, and looking at it again, I can move it back up into the “sortof” category but a bit more polished.

In a personal effort to keep my advancement going, I’ve decided to try to write here about it. Hoping that the effort will keep my thinking about and playing more. We’ll see how it works.

Fate's 2011 Resolutions

Yesterday, I told Fin I wrote a couple blog posts. Her immediate response? “So, did you post your Resolutions recap and are planning on posting resolutions for next year?” Me: “….” Well, why not? It’s tradition… So, new years resolutions, again:

1. Better manage eating out and bringing lunch to work
Fin and I have a basic “frozen leftovers” system where we freeze main courses for me to grab with my lunches. Still, I find I’ve slipped on my lunch grabbing for the office. This year, my goal is to get back to eating out only 1x a week, and making that a more planned event.

2. 3 camping trips for 2011 – with 1 in a new location.
This is less a resolution and more of a plan. Next year, I’d like to make 3 camping trips instead of 2. This really depends on both Fin and my schedules, but I think it should be doable.

3. Pay off one more loan.
Making good progress on this. With any luck, this will be nuked from my resolutions list the next couple go-a-rounds.

4. Do more writing / more blog posting.
I’ve got a few writing projects in my head that I’d like to get accomplished. I’d also like to see myself blogging here more often and about more stuff. I started the year off right on that, let’s see if I can keep it up. This years goal is 1 post a month here, and at least half of a book I want to write.

5. Ship something at work or home.
My professional life has seen so many, many canceled projects and products and time sinks over the past few years. I’m hoping to get something out the door either professionally or in my hobby time. By the time this year is out, I’m determined to have SOME software being used by a new customer SOMEWHERE. Damnit.

6. Improve garden and yard care.
For 2011, I’d like to see us have a better looking yard / and continue on making the garden awesome. This year, we did a lot to get the garden started. This next year, I’m hoping to continue that tradition, and help Fin make an even better garden. There’s a few things that went wrong last year, and a lot we did right. This year, we should be able to do even better. Better yard care basically means keeping a solid schedule of cutting the grass, triming the bushes, and ensuring the garden doesn’t get overgrown.

7. Return to Martial Arts.
With the new job, the work/schedule/money matrix looks a lot better for making this happen. It might have happened last year, except I started in mid-Dec right before the holiday season. With the holiday’s past, this should be doable. It’s just a matter of getting the motivation now that several obstacles are improved. By December next year, I’d like to have a couple months attendance at a local school. After that, I’ll decide if my not returning was do to lack of interest or being overwhelmed otherwise.

8. Unpack office, file ‘to file pile’, and unpack 1 garage box.
I’m simplifying my unpacking resolution this year to something very specific. There’s probably too much crap floating around the house to see everything unpacked, but this should be doable and greatly improve our computer area.

9. Start making molded soap.
At this point, I’ve made some solid soaps, and an (accidental) batch of liquid soap. With this years Christmas presents, I have some nice soap molds. I hope to make some cool molded soaps. I’m also thinking about maybe introducing color into the soap as well. Right now though, I do like the no added colors and only essential oils for scent though.

10. Complete at least one carpentry / wood working project solo.
I like that I’ve got family willing to help with a lot of this sorta stuff, but, I’d like to start doing more of this stuff on my own too, now that I’m getting a better feel for how it works.