Friday, March 07, 2008

Musical Overtones

Imagine. Yesterday. Fur Elise. Mrs. Robinson. Piano Man. Love Is Blue.

These were the pieces I used to play by heart on the piano. They were some of the first that I learned and I played them over and over, the familiar patterns of movement over the keys.

After three different teachers and one very tense recital, I spent a lot of time without sheet music, teaching myself to play by ear. And then I returned to sheet music, playing variations on the printed arrangements. I loved to do this--I could sit for hours on the bench, either playing full pieces, or picking out melodies I'd heard somewhere during the day. I wrote a few small pieces of my own, including a daring dark waltz that I still hum to myself occasionally.

My family had very mixed feelings about my playing. My mother encouraged me, because I think she had always wanted to learn and was frustrated with her lack of ability. My father would ask me to learn certain songs (Don't Cry For Me, Argentina, or I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues) that he was particularly fond of. My sister probably would have been happy to see the whole piano dropped out the window.

For me, it was a magical way to tap into my creative energy. Music is something that for me combines my free spirit with a love of mechanical construction. To hear a song and play it back was to pick apart the way each note fit into another and reconstruct them on my own terms.

I haven't played a piano in a good seven years or so. I miss it. I probably couldn't play anything right now; I'd have to teach myself all over again. I might be better at it this time around--I've finally learned how to control my left hand's coordination through my mastery of typing. Sometime in the next year, Nate and I will move (where to? not sure yet), and I hope the new place will be big enough for the piano that my mother always says is mine whenever I want to take it.

I don't regret the path my life has taken that separated me from the music; but there's always a part of me that longs to bring music back into my life. Here's to making that happen.

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