Tuesday, 16 January 2018

I Practise The Piano

There's a myth I've grown up with that the black notes are harder.  "They're not," says my son, categorically, this evening. He realises that I am a pupil who comes with baggage. This is shown again later when he suggests, "Use your imagination - you know, the one suppressed when you were a child." We laugh.

I'm learning the piano, and my son is teaching me. I pay him - it's strictly business, strictly for pleasure. He fills in a notebook with instructions and comments. He encourages me - "Your hands are looking great!"; he imparts wisdom, "To make a mistake is not a problem, but to play without passion is a crime."

I'm learning the piano because I have unfinished business. I spent years practising the flute, taking exams and playing some of the repertoire I still hear at school concerts - ah yes, here comes Faure's Sicilienne arching down the years. But I listen, have always listened, to piano music - Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy, Shostakovitch, Rachmaninov, Schumann, Brahms ...

My fingers are re-playing the keys I first found under my mother's guidance decades ago. She taught me for a couple of years when I was seven or eight, and then as a teenager I'd often meander around her piano for an afternoon, mostly sticking to the things I knew.

During this evening's lesson, when my son asks me to start with any scale I like, I gravitate self-consciously to Middle C, the easy note, the one my mother showed me first. I play C major - the easy scale, avoiding the black notes. "I like B major," says my son. "It sits under my hands."

On the first page of my notebook, he has written:


Liz's Piano Journey

17th October 2017

And so it begins ...

I don't know where I'm headed, so I look at his notes.  Get your hands to do different things at the same time, he writes. And then: Enjoy yourself!





Sunday, 7 January 2018

I Dismantle Christmas

I was glad when it came, I'm glad it's over.
I sang along to favourite carols, I desire silence.
I unpacked decorations, I pack them away.
I enjoyed the tree's arrival, I enjoy its departure.
I was restored by the parties, I am restored by solitude.
I relaxed into chaos, I tidy my home.
I delighted in rich food, I eat simple food.
I revelled in December, I embrace January.