Friday, November 12, 2004

Music Update du Jour

It's been a while since I've imposed a music update on everyone, so here it is.

First of all, today is MUSIC THEORY day! After a bit of a sabbatical from doing four-part harmony-writing exercises, I think I'm ready to start them again. In the meantime, we've been doing secondary dominants and figured bass reading. Most of my work this week (on the days I wasn't sick) revolved around:

(1) playing Bach chorales by just looking at the figured bass arrangements (this involved some improvising);

(2) trying my hand at writing arrangements based on the figured bass;

(3) playing hymns out of the good ol' Baptist Hymnal and analyzing as I play; and

(4) jus' makin' stuff up.

The hymn-playing and "just' makin' stuff up" exercises were more for ear-training than anything else. You know, just to get it into my head what it sounds like if you go from a I to a V/V to a V7 and then back to a I.

Funny ... Dan came into the Inner Sanctum one evening and asked, "What are you playing? I love it!"

And I was just messing around with secondary dominants. How cool is that?

It's all very, very basic, but I never claimed to be an expert. And I seem to be moving along, even though the plateaus are plentiful.

PIANO is going well. I think. I miss my Chopin Nocturne; I "graduated" from it, but it's like I'm a recent high school graduate who loved high school and doesn't want to accept the fact that she's graduated. So, in the midst of practicing my other pieces, I'm working on memorizing the Chopin. It's such a beautiful piece; I'd love to have it in my head so that I can play it whenever I want to, and not just when I have the crutch of the sheet music.

Oh, I forgot to mention a good experience I had regarding the piano. We had company last Sunday, a couple from South Carolina (actually the wife was from Vietnam) and I played the Chopin for them. When I finished, the wife actually wiped tears from her eyes. Yes, folks, it's that beautiful. And I'm not bragging about my pianistic abilities. Yes, I can play the piece relatively well, but the piece itself is that beautiful.

When I first started back at piano, it was because I wanted to learn that Chopin Nocturne in B-flat minor. Now I'm finished with it and am moving on. I feel like I've left high school behind. Literally. The Dett piece I'm working on is one that I started to learn my senior year of college. And the Chopin Ballade that I'm going to begin once the Dett is "up and running" is probably more difficult than most of what I learned in college piano courses.

The question, "Why am I doing this?" often comes back to me. Why am I spending hours every day working at this? What's the goal? Does there have to be a goal beyond the merely selfish--the sheer joy of playing well and hearing myself make beautiful music? It's not like I have any desire to become a concert pianist.

When I finished playing the Chopin for our guests this weekend, the husband said he was impressed and "how did you learn to play like that?!", and Dan said, "Well, she definitely pays her dues." I do put in the time. And when I do get to play for an audience, small as it may be, it does feel good to "move" people with music. Makes me feel like I've shared a deep part of myself.

So maybe that's part of the goal.

And maybe this is the end of my music update. :)

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