I graduated [from the Swedish equivalent of senior high] in 1985 and left music school and even my piano behind when I went to the university. I could make a fast forward over two or three decades here, but I have to mention that I tried to play the piano several times during these years. I bought a Yamaha Clavinova in 1991, one of the first decent digital piano models, and I was very optimistic about the outcome. Finally a chance to practice with headphones, not feeling that awfully exposed anymore when I was practicing – this would do it! Because my stage fright even concerned my practicing sometimes, especially when I struggled too much with something and got comments from my family members like “that is awful!” or “isn’t that piece a bit too hard for you?”
They meant no harm, I know. They were just humans. I would have done the same … not to mention that I often agreed with them. Today I do it even more. I mean, how stupid is it to try to “miss a mistake” by speeding the tempo up instead of decreasing it? Or by pressing the keys even harder? Very stupid indeed. A faulty note will not get more correct in that way … Yet, I did just like that but my defense is that nobody had taught me how to learn a piece, just how it should sound. Again, this was a long time ago. Piano studies seemed to be like this in general. But the reactions weren’t very encouraging. I wanted to practice in private, to be as bad as I wanted and needed at the moment in order to solve my problems.
Actually I have exactly the same approach today.
Being the proud owner of this new funny Yamaha gadget, I faithfully tried to maintain my former repertoire, which had peaked at “Clair de Lune” in 1985 … but somehow it was just too difficult. I tried. As I mentioned in previous posting, there were questions I never asked myself … finally I would, but it took many years. Life had to teach me a lot of things first, things that certainly had nothing to do with piano playing.
Instead, piano playing has a lot to do with life. But I’ll talk about in a later post.
So I sat there at my little piano and I got mad at myself, because I felt my skills as a pianist were going backwards, however that could be possible. Every time I returned to the piano I played worse than before. (Could be that my musical hearing also improved a bit when I was not practicing so much. Angrily working your way through Hanon exercises is a good way to make you tone numb if you don’t watch out. So, this musical wake-up and welcome-to-the-real-world was painful.) Finally my whole pianist life was restricted to playing “Silent Night” on Christmas Eves and inbetween make some sloppy and uneven versions of “Für Elise”. But at least my loving and faithful husband was supportive enough to appreciate it.
I forgot about classical music, I mostly listened to the same hit list music as everyone else did. But I could never make myself say “I used to play the piano”. It was just too hard for me to conclude that it once was, but would never be again. Like saying a beautiful love story is over, sort of. A little bit of me refused to give up and still clinged to the thin thread of “I play the piano”.