Took a couple of days off this past week. But to my astonishment, when I actually did sit down at the piano, I found that not only had I not lost any ground, but I seemed to have improved during the brief sabbatical.
All those waltzes and waltzlike (hey, another new word!) pieces? Check.
Those new blues pieces I was raving about last week? Check. Well, check-minus, anyway. Hold that thought.
I have skipped The Can-Can due to my utter distaste for it. I don't like it when professional musicians play this, much less a hack such as myself. I am working on The Marines' Hymn right now, with a couple of brief forays into Why Am I Blue?
What's up with the sudden progress? A couple of things, I believe. First, I think there was simply a settling of learnings that happened with time and few good nights' sleep. (This reminds me, I keep meaning to write about Piaget's theories of Cognitive Development and how I think they relate to learning the piano, but then I keep putting it off. Maybe subconsciously I am afraid to run off the 5 or 10 of who actually visit... I'll get back to you on this.)
Second, I think I have lowered my standards a little bit for when to progress. Earlier (like, you know, a month ago), I wouldn't move off a piece until I had it absolutely perfect. Backwards, eyes closed, different tempos, whatever. Then I learned, and reported here, that just because I played something perfectly weeks ago, it doesn't mean I have learned perfectly... I was revisiting conquered pieces from the past, and playing them poorly. So instead of trying to reach a perfection that, it turns out, was merely a mirage, I now get to the point where I can comfortably and consistently get through a piece, even with an error or two. Hence the check-minus on the blues pieces. I still have a hint of a pause as I work my way through measures 9 and 10 in Got Those Blues!, but I'm good with it for now. I hope to get better as time passes, and I use this in future warm ups.
I am now at the point in Alfred where we are slowly introducing new key signatures. The Marines' Hymn (and, sigh, The Can-Can) are both in G-major, which is a necessarily tame start. This has been a major fear point for me. As a kid playing saxophone, my instrument (the alto sax) was an e-flat instrument. This meant, for reasons utterly beyond my comprehension, that most of the key signatures I played in were pretty tame. A sharp or two at most, almost never a flat. I developed, in those three years, an intense dislike for any "exotic" key... which, in my book, is any signature with more than one flat, or two sharps. About two months ago, I found a score for U2's New Year's Day, and saw three or four flats on it... immediately threw it away. I hope Alfred will cure this phobia of mine, and I welcome any suggestions from folks who have conquered a similar condition. Most of the really interesting things I want to play are in some funky key signatures, and I will welcome a mindset that says "Oh cool!" rather than "Uh oh".