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Wow.  This is hard.  Okay, really.  I remember some stuff from grade school.  Who could forget Every Good Boy Does Fine or F-A-C-E?  Those are burned into my brain.  For those of you who learned an instrument as a kid, maybe this seems unfathomable, but I’m overwhelmed.  DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY THINGS YOU HAVE TO KEEP TRACK OF WHILE YOU’RE PLAYING AN INSTRUMENT!?

The books I am using say things like, “Have your teacher hold down the pedal if you can’t reach it.” And yet, in one song, I have to notice whether to play loud or soft or in between (forte or piano or mezzo forte), figure out where to put my fingers, remember which finger corresponds to which number (did you know they number your fingers?), and also keep the beat (how are you supposed to count your fingers AND count the beat?), all the while recognizing whether the notes are half, quarter, or whole, and whether or not you are pushing down the pedal or playing with more than one finger at a time.  And several other things that I’ve forgotten already.

I haven’t even begun to move around from octave to octave (I only sort of know what that means), or to actually read music yet.  Ach!

My daughter is all patience, but I can tell she’s bored, watching me hit the wrong keys over and over.  I know that younger brains are more pliable.  I knew that when I started.  I’m doing this because I HAVE ALWAYS WANTED TO PLAY AN INSTRUMENT.  Remember that?  It’s harder to make excuses when you already have a piano and a teacher at hand.

That was the real thing, wasn’t it: that it would be hard.  That I’m scared I’m too old and  won’t be able to do it.

Okay, it’s hard, and I’ve barely begun.  Someday it will all click together and then it will be easier?  My brother-in-law, who is my age and just learning guitar, assures me that there will be “Aha!” moments along the way.  That I just have to trust in the process and keep pushing myself. Or have someone else push me, if necessary.  Hence the blog!

To supplement my musical education, I’m reading The FJH Classic Music Dictionary.  There are 18 different tempo indications.  18!  They are (in English): extremely slow; slower than slow; slow (broad); slow; “at ease” slow; faster than “at ease” slow; faster than slow (broad); walking tempo; usually slower than walking tempo but sometimes faster; moderate; fast “cheerful”; not as fast as fast “cheerful”; lively; vigorous; very fast; faster than fast “cheerful”; very lively; and as fast as possible.

“Usually slower than walking tempo but sometimes faster” is my favorite.

Clearly these people were on drugs.

I am enjoying the way the Italian rolls off your tongue (or sometimes thuds in my case).  It makes me want to learn Italian, too.  Maybe that will be next year’s project.  Elissa’s piano teacher has offered to teach her Italian, but Elissa is resisting the idea.  If she only knew… Well, youth is wasted on the young.

In parting: a few words of encouragement from Rumi for those of us just beginning to blossom:

You come to reading books late in life.

Don’t worry if you see the young ones

ahead of you.  Don’t hurry.

You’re tired and ready to quit?

Let your hands play music.

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