Who is it that haunts empty office space environments? Who gazes past the venetian blinds? Ballface, that's who. Is he related to Pencilface? No one knows.
I was at a friend's house last week and played her Petrof upright piano; I was blown away by the sound quality. The Kawais at church all sound good, with a pleasant, mellow tone, but this Petrof had a rich, full sound that I instantly liked. They're made in the Czech Republic and are said to emulate a traditional European tone as opposed to the Japanese instruments, which have a sound of their own. Or so I think! Frankly, the whole subject of piano tone is so subjective and so based on the hearing and experience of the player and listener (not to mention room acoustics) that anything goes. I'm making a habit of playing any new piano I come across to get an idea of what it is I like. Some day I'll play well enough to ditch my Cable-Nelson learner spinet for a better instrument; when that day comes I want to have a good idea of what it is I'm looking for. (Understanding, of course, that when I'm ready to buy it'll probably be a case of what I can afford and what's available more than what I want.)
I am proud to note that I have completed my first serious piano book for adults (Beginner) and have started on my second (Beginner Intermediate). Since the books are musically chronological, they begin with Baroque era pieces, which I find especially challenging. (Then Classical, then Romantic and then 20th Century. My teacher says I do well with the 20th Century ones.) Counterpoint is such an important feature of the Baroque style; the left hand is required to diddle up and down the keys while the right is picking out the melody. I am now struggling with a piece by Jeremiah Clarke: "King William's March." I like it a lot but it is somewhat fiendish and is requiring more time to learn than usual. As is unavoidable with me, I came up with lyrics - they describe how tricky the fingering is: Let's pop pills!/It'll help you play piano!/Let's pop pills!/It's the hyper Baroque style!, etc. The next piece, a Rigadon, is also tricky, with an elusive, understated melody. I have a week to learn it.
CDs come with these books... the woman playing the pieces blasts through them at a tempo in excess of what is indicated on the pages. It's impossible for me to replicate. In order to keep from making a shambles of the King William March I'm having to slow it way down from my usual clip, but that's okay. My teacher says I attempt to play most pieces too quickly, anyway. The other day I made the mistake of listening to all the pieces in the second book on the CD. By the time I got to the last piece I was flabbergasted. Will I be able to play that?
The electric bass was far easier to learn to play than the piano - at least to learn to play reasonably well enough to accompany others in a band. And one didn't have to learn to read music to play; I got by with bass tabs (which I now recognize is a major cheater method).
Piano is difficult, more on less on par with learning calculus in college. And I suppose it doesn't help that I'm 54. It seems there are advantages and disadvantages with learning an instrument at that age. On one hand my intellect certainly isn't as supple and agile as it used to be - memorizing is more difficult. I have a very hard time remembering telephone numbers, in fact. I have to write them down. On the other hand, however, I now have a much better sense of concentration and determination than I had as a young man, when I routinely started things only to give them up when the going got tough. I only started to lose that habit when I got into the Marines. In fact, any good thing I have achieved I credit to the Marine Corps. Engineering school would have been impossible without it, I think. It was in the Marines that I learned how to focus and not to give up easily. I also learned that there was no such thing as "I can't do that." It is always a case of, "I won't do that."
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