26 November 2010
Yesterday’s mention of Cecilia Gordon — my erstwhile piano teacher — prompted me to dig into my autobiographical notes and recount the rather sad history of my piano playing.
I was at a supper party one day, in my 40th year, and a discussion ensued about playing the piano.Â I heard myself say how much I would love to be able to play myself. I had, in fact, started once in my teens, but, having no piano of our own I was forced to practice on a friendâ€™s. After a couple weeks his mother could stand it any longer and my piano playing aspirations withered.
On the way home from that dinner party, musing on the things that we had discussed, I realized what a stupid comment I had made in saying how much I would love to be able to play.Â If I really wished I could learn to play the piano, what was stopping me? The following day I bought a piano and signed up with the localÂ Â piano teacher for lessons. I decided that I would get up every day at six o’clock and practice for 40 minutes.Â I would give myself 10 years to see if I could reach a reasonable level of competence.Â After a year or so I entered for my Grade 1 examination.. I was extremely nervous.Â I remember that my â€˜bigâ€™ piece was called something like Swans and Ducks, which I practiced assiduously, for weeks,Â before the big day.
The day of the examination arrived.Â I presented myself at the Village Hall, along with a half aÂ dozen toddlers taking the same examination.. When it came to my turn I entered the examination with trepidation.Â I marched up to the invigilator, who was busy recording the efforts of the last examinee.Â I stuck out my hand which she ignored as she continued to write.Â She impatiently waved me away in the direction of the piano.Â I sat down on the stool and found that I could not get my knees under the keyboard. The stool was, not surprisingly, far too high as the last hopeful had been little more than 3 feet tall.Â I spent the next few minutes working myself up into a muck sweat trying to wind it down.
By this time the invigilator was getting ready impatient and told me, rather peremptorily, â€œto get on with it.â€Â She immediately demanded an arpeggio, from the top down and up.Â I had only been taught to play them from the bottom up and down, soÂ was immediately thrown off my stride.Â
I fumbled my way through that and the scales and so on, until I came to my â€˜bigâ€™Â piece.Â Somehow I struggled through it until I got to the last eight bars by which time I could not recognize a single note. All I could see were, what looked like, black inkblots.
I achieved a score on 101 marks -the pass markÂ being 100. So my piano career was off to a stumbling start. I continued to practice daily, as I had promised myself, and after 10 years reached Grade 5 level. I then assessed my competence and decided that I would murder the instrument no longer, and have never played a note since.Â
The piano was shortly after purloined by my musical daughter and I’m pleased to say that grandson Fred has just taken ( Mar.2009) his Grade 1 piano exam, and hopefully passed with flying colours.
Chris Wix returned yesterday to install the generator which Â hopefully will soon be up and running, as the weather threatens to turn nasty at the weekend. There is a possibility of a heavy snowfall which is frequently a cause of power failure.
A naughty joke to finish off today’s entry. The Sneeze.