Friday, August 4, 2017

Time for a Music Update: Piano

With the move last month (or was it two months ago?), my musical life had a bit of an interruption. But now that I've been here for eight weeks, I've fallen into more of a routine. I've also started working out in the mornings (5:30 a.m.), so it's been a challenge to wake up, work out, and still make time for music practice before the rest of my family rises and shines.

Oh, and I have a music room now.

Let's talk about piano first, since it's my first and best love, and the only instrument that I can play with some skill. I recently discovered Sheet Music Direct, and oh my ... it has put a dent in my "fun money" account (I don't have a "fun money" account, actually. But if I did, it would have put a dent in it.)

I've decided that I want to find a few nursing homes or assisted living facilities where I can play piano for an hour or so a few times a month, doing something of a rotation every other week. With that thought in mind, I started finding songs that would be appropriate for that. Of course I have a decent repertoire of hymns, and a few simpler classical pieces that I learned as a child and never forgot. I also have the Bach's G minor sinfonia and Chopin's B-flat minor nocturne, along with a few jazz and ragtime pieces. So I have enough of a repertoire to play for an hour ... but I need more than that.

Nursing home residents can range from my age (or younger) to somewhere in the 90's or even 100 or more. So we're talking about people born between, say, the 1920's and the 1960's ... with musical tastes formed in around the 1940's to the 1980's. That's everything from Frank Sinatra and Glenn Miller to Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis, to Louis Armstrong, to the Beatles, to Carole King, to Billy Joel and Elton John. That's a lot of music! I can play a little bit of everything, but I need to up my piano game. I need to build my repertoire. So I've begun building a list of songs I want to learn, and once I start volunteering, I'll ask the residents what they'd like to hear, and learn those songs.

I think part of me wants to be kind of a para-professional--not a paid pianist, but good enough, and professional enough, to be one. I know I have it in me. I just need to practice, and I need to start getting some "volunteer gigs." I have a list of facilities in front of me, and I'm going to start making calls next week.

As far as what I'm working on right now, not necessarily for nursing homes but for me:
  • Great Balls of Fire (Jerry Lee Lewis)
  • I Feel the Earth Move (Carole King)
  • Re-learning Bach's C#-major prelude from WTC I
  • Polishing up Chopin's B-flat minor nocturne (Op. 9, No. 1)
OK, onward to instrument #2 ... guitar.

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