Thursday, April 28, 2005

Eenie-Meenie-Miney-Mo

I practiced piano today. Thumb only aches mildly--nothing like the pain I've had for the past month or more. Now, keep in mind, I've averaged between zero and twenty minutes of practice per day for a couple of weeks--pathetic. But that's shows how bad Thumb has felt (though my crazy schedule and job-related fatigue didn't help).

So here's what happened at my practice today:

1. I played the contrary-motion scales perfectly. Purr. Fect. Lee. No mistakes. I thought I was imagining things, or had just had a lucky scale, so I played them again. And again. No mistakes. They sounded as smooth and felt as comfortable as my regular scales. Weird.

2. I played the contrary-motion arpeggios even better. I played them twice as fast. Perfect. Hands flying over the keys, hitting the correct notes every time. Hmph. I watched my hands as if I were watching someone else's hands. Were my hands really playing that? I guess they were.

3. I had such an intensive 30-minute practice on the Dett that I forgot that Thumb was supposed to hurt. I forgot, also, that I'm supposed to be frustrated at not having "finished" the Dett by now (thanks to Thumb).

So what do you think happened? At the end of my 30-minute practice, I thought to myself, "OK, no metronome. Just play this thing through, and see how it sounds." So I played it through, and at a nice pace--not quite the allegro ma non troppo that it's supposed to be, but still a nice pace. And it sounded good. Not perfect, but good. Better yet, it felt natural. This is a big deal. Plus, I had a strange, unfamiliar sensation that I haven't had in some time when at the piano ... I think it's called "enjoying myself." Imagine that!

4. I played the Mozart next. Again, practicing has been minimal for weeks. Played it through and it sounded quite good, except that the runs were a little rusty. No biggie. I practiced each run for a few minutes, and the next time I played it through, they sounded fine.

5. I dug out the Chopin nocturne that I love so much. Got into it. Played the trill sections and they felt natural. In all the times I've played this nocturne, the trills never felt quite right. This time the trills just happened. They felt right, and with no sense of "making an effort" on my part. Thinking it might have just been dumb luck, I played the piece again, trills and all. Beautiful.

In short, I had the best practice I've had in months. I played better than I have in months. I realize that my perceptions may be muddied for whatever reason, so maybe I didn't necessarily play better. But I felt better while playing. I enjoyed it. I had fun. And that, friends, is what it's all about.

So, to explain the title of this post, I'm attributing this amazing piano practice to one of four possible causes:

EENIE: The Hubster cast a magical piano excellento! spell on me last night while I was sleeping.

MEENIE: I'm revving up for a bipolar high.

MINE: The poltergeist who switched brains and a thumb with me last month decided to switch everything back. I didn't notice the switch because I was too busy writhing in pain in the dentist's chair. If this is the case, I'll have to inform the dentist that he has a poltergeist living at his office. Hmm, I knew there was something wrong about that place...

NEE: All those knocking-my-head-against-a-wall practices of the past few months have sunk in, and I've finally reached a "breakthrough."

MO: The vise of unbelievable tension in which job-related stress has held me is finally starting to loosen. My last day of work is two weeks from today. I had a good interview at the school, and I now have two freelance-writing assignments on my plate, both of which will be fun to write. I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Both Thumb and Brain are happy about all of this, so they've decided to start being nice to me again.

Which do you think it is?

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