Friday, February 6, 2009

Aw2pp's first lesson... sort of

You'll recall, if you've been coming here for more than 2 weeks or so, that Jillian has her piano lessons on Mondays. You also know nobody has booked the time slot immediately following hers. Good thing, because PT is a real talker, and time tends to get away from her. Jillian's first four "30 minute" lessons have accumulated probably 3.5 hours of clock time. We're supposed to end at 7:00. We've yet to finish before 7:20.

So last week, I confirmed that the 7:00 PM time slot was still available. It was. I told her I wanted it. She said she's call to confirm. She never did, but I spent all weekend* polishing up The Entertainer, I Due Fiumi, and the parts of Melodia Africana II** that I can play.

* - By "all weekend", I mean maybe 30 minutes on Saturday, and 15 minutes on Sunday. I haven't had much bench time lately.

** - That would be pages 1 and 2. 3 is still impossibl for me. So much for that being a recital piece.

Jillian's lesson this week went like her others. She went through the 4 or 5 pieces she was assigned, with only minor hiccups, or none at all. She put stickers on each completed page. She was assigned new pieces, sight-read the first one, wrote the note names down on the others, and did some counting exercises on them. They do a lot of that at this point in her lessons. I'd say only about 1/3 of the time actually has her on the keyboard itself.

Then about 7:15, PT did as she's done in the previous weeks... she snapped herself to attention, looked at her watch, and apologized for going so long. Then started talking about next week.

Me: "Is the 7:00 time slot still available?"
PT: "Sure is. Do you still want it?"
Me: "You bet. When can we start?"
PT: "How about next week? I promise to be better about the time. You can always interrupt me."
Me: "It's no problem. How about we start now? We still have 15 minutes."

As with Jillian's lessons, we managed our time poorly. It took me about 10 minutes to go through my music / piano playing history. I brought Alfred's Book One, and some Einaudi sheet music. I admitted that Alfred's at times bores me, but that I feel like I probably need to do the method book thing to build the toolset for playing more (and more interesting) styles and music. She nodded attentively and appropriately, then asked me to play "something".

I broke out I Due Fiumi, and... couldn't play a lick of it. I had no idea what notes were which. Or which pedal was sustain, and which was una corda. I didn't play it nearly as well as I did the very first time I attempted the piece back in November.

A word or two about her piano. It is an 80 year old Emerson baby grand, no more than 5 and half feet, and probably less. I came to find out, with all the pedaling required in I Due Fiumi, that it needs to be tuned. The key travel is rightnow, meaning, keys bottom out seemingly the moment you lay a finger on them. I am sure I will become accustomed to all these things. But on my first experience, I absolutely could not play her piano.

Nevertheless, I meandered around enough for her to formulate some basic suggestions for improvement, mostly fingering changes. She asked me to play something out of Alfred's, and I again stumbled and bumbled, this time through The Entertainer. And by this point, it was almost 8:00.

We agreed on this: I would work on the first two pieces in Alfred's Book 2, and do some work on I Due Fiumi and Melodia Africana 2. Long-term, she is probably going to have me focus more on Alfred's pieces, since that provides a framework for learning. Then, as rewards for progress, mix in new Einaudi pieces or things from the standard classical repertoire she thinks might interest me. There is a lot of theory that is completely mysterious and opaque to me. "Can you play that G7 chord again? I want to show you a different way you can do that." Um, no, I have no idea what you are talking about.

One thing to look forward to: June recital. Maybe I can play Le Onde?

- Aw2pp, who thinks Oswald acted alone.

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