Monday, April 29, 2013


Ok, kids, here is a big secret: I am very ambivalent about your musical education.

Maybe it isn't a big secret, but I have been trying to keep you in the dark about how much I hated practicing piano.  True, true, you see me practicing whenever I can.  However, when I was your age, I did everything I could to get out of it.

When I had chicken pox, I used the excuse that I had blisters on my hands to get out of practicing for AN ENTIRE WEEK! It was possibly the best infection ever.

Why did I hate it?  It was totally an over kill. I was somehow, destined to become a musician. Perhaps I showed some aptitude, perhaps because my mother wished to live vicariously through me, perhaps because I showed no affinity for the sciences. Anyway, I was suppose to go to conservatory and do something with music.

To get there, I played some piano from age four and on, then switched to violin when I was in first grade, played that as my main instrument until third grade, when piano was added back in. Until, my mother saw the light and let me quit the violin. Hard to say if she let me quit because I was so noncompliant, or because my violin teacher was a pervert. (I am seriously hoping it was the latter. Don't worry, I wasn't actually molested. He was "just" inappropriate, and my dad told him to cut it out.) That is another story for another day.

Anyway, while you both complain incessantly about your 30 minutes of practicing, I was playing FOUR hours of piano and TWO hours of violin time when I didn't have school. Mind you, I had to practice the violin STANDING UP.

That's right. Stop complaining. You don't know how good you have it. My parents never bribed me to practice. I just had to.  You are SO incredibly lucky that you get to exchange iPad time. I know, I know, you have friends who just play the iPad all day long. That is not the point.

I used to practice the scales, arpeggios, repetitive finger exercises for an hour. Then I played Bach for an hour. Then I played either Mozart or Beethoven for an hour. Then everyone else was crammed into the final hour. I practiced from 8 am to noon. No breaks.

Seriously, how did my mother manage to get me to do that?!

After lunch and forced nap time, (which I don't even make you do,) I played the violin for 2 hours, from 2 pm to 4 pm.

Over the summer months, I did this Monday through Saturday. With church on Sunday, that schedule was moved a bit. Everything went to the afternoon.

Of course, I cried almost daily. Thus, my ambivalence. Do I really want to make you cry? Of course not. You are making yourself cry. (Just kidding, kind of...) I want you to enjoy music, because after all, I now really like playing the piano. (Still can't say that for the violin.) I even went on to study music in college. Therefore, I want you to enjoy it! YOU WILL ENJOY IT. On the other hand, playing music isn't all that enjoyable until you are fairly decent at it. I am trying to get you to be decent at it.

I am just trying.

Here is a clip of Mozart's piano sonata, in F major, K. 332, third movement. I am not sure what happened to the taping, I didn't check it when I 'finished.' Maybe I will have to redo this one.

Also, for your reference, here is Mitsuko Uchida playing the same piece. You could do much worse for a piano teacher, trust me.

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