Sunday 16 July 2017
Since returning from London, I’ve been inspired to get back into playing the piano. I’d been considering it for a few months prior to leaving for London, but hadn’t done anything about it. In fact, subconsciously, I think I’d put it out of my mind because, honestly, when was I going to have the time to play, and when was I going to find the time to go and buy a keyboard? Questions and no real answer to them.
As it turned out, I had plenty of time to do a bit of research, and I narrowed down a few keyboards I liked the look of. I checked out the specs of the ones I was considering, and ended up deciding on the Korg B1 digital piano. Now, it’s not the sort of keyboard I’m used to. When I was first learning how to play, I had a whiz-bang Technics organ, with all the bells and whistles, and more buttons, and sounds than you could poke a stick at. After all, I do love a good technical/electronic gadget with buttons and stuff. So, the Korg B1 is quite basic compared to what I’d ordinarily go for. It’s got a built-in metronome, eight sounds, and eight demo songs. Really, all I wanted was a realistic sounding piano, and this keyboard certainly has that. Three of the sounds are pianos, but it’s the concert piano sound that I’ve been sticking to.
I’ve always fancied owning a Korg. The company has a great reputation for producing quality keyboards. And back in the day (*cough, cough, the 80s, cough cough*) they produced some brilliant keytars. Oh, how I wanted a keytar, and I blame Paul Gray from Wa Wa Nee for that. Although, his keytar was a Yamaha. Damn, I’m really showing my age as this post progresses. Come to think of it, I always fancied a Roland keyboard as well. Maybe I should invest in one of those next?! Now I’m getting ahead of myself.
Luckily, I kept all of the sheet music I had collected in the years I’d been learning. Of course, in relearning how to play, I’ve jumped straight in at the deep end, and have decided that it’s best to learn something new. Y’know, that I’ve never played before. Instead of playing things I have already learnt, and already know how to play, and where my fingers should be on the keyboard. Yeah, I’ve gone the slightly more difficult route. Completely new music. Apparently, I’m up for a challenge. According to me.
I hit up iBooks, and bought some sheet music, thinking that dealing with sheet music on the iPad would be easier than sheet music in book form. Yeah, big mistake. Anyone who plays an instrument, and reads music, will know that sheet music in book form is very readable. The staves and notes are a decent size . . . so that older eyes can read them without difficulty. That same can’t be said for sheet music displayed on an iPad. It’s readable, sure, but I’ve found it involves a lot of squinting. And before anyone says anything, no, it’s not my eyesight. Call me old-fashioned, but I’ve decided that old school sheet music, on paper, in books, is the way to go for me. With that in mind, I’ve tracked down the music that I intend to learn, ordered it, and it should be on its way to me within a couple of weeks. Quite frankly, by the time it arrives, I probably won’t need it because I’ll have already learnt a lot of the songs I want to play.
I was surprised when I started tinkering around on the keyboard, because it all came back to me pretty quickly. I was genuinely surprised by how much I hadn’t forgotten. I expected it to be a challenge. I expected to have to relearn so much about playing, that I was prepared to be extremely frustrated with my own lack of skills. Now, whether I chose simple songs to learn, or whether it’s because I already know how to play, or it’s because I’m an eager lil beaver and genuinely want to relearn to play, these songs are coming together beautifully. My ability to sight read music seems to be better now than when I was at the peak of my keyboard playing. Aaaaaah, the benefits of getting older. Actually, I’m not really sure it has anything to do with getting older.
So, you’re all probably curious to know what music I’m learning at the moment. Okay, you’re probably not interested at all, but I’m gonna tell you regardless. Well, it should come as no surprise to you that I’m currently learning as much music by Adele that I can possibly learn. And if I do say so myself, I’m not doing a bad job at it either. You knew I was going to write Adele, didn’t you? I’m also knocking out a bit of Sarah McLachlan because I love her stuff as well. And when I dig out my old music, well, God knows what else will be in there. It’s been years, decades even since I looked through that crate. It’ll be almost like going on an archaeological dig for long buried cultural treasures. And there’s possibly as much dust on that stuff as you would find in an old, buried tomb. As long as there aren’t any spiders . . . I hate spiders.
Since I set my digital piano up, with the exception of today, I’ve spent between three and five hours a day practicing. That has meant that writing, and everything else that I’d normally do, has taken a bit of a back seat. I’m finding it relaxing to be tinkering around on the keyboard. More relaxing than frustrating, thankfully. However, don’t expect any videos of me playing any time soon. I’m not into that – I play for me rather than anyone else. Mind you, I used to say that about writing too. ‘I write for me, not anyone else’ . . . oh, hey, here’s a link to my blog.
I’m far from being any sort of musical genius. Back in the day, when I was a teenager, and spent all of my time playing, I was pretty good. It didn’t take me long to learn new pieces, most of which I could play from memory. And it seems now, I’m slipping back into that speed of learning pieces, so my old brain isn’t ready to retire yet. Thankfully. I think, though, when you enjoy playing a musical instrument, as with anything else you enjoy doing, it’s not a chore to practice, or learn the skills, and you’re playing seems to step up a notch. That’s what it feels like.
Righto, I’m off now to play a few songs whilst watching Roger Federer try to make history in the Wimbledon Men’s Final. Hmmmm, maybe I should take up tennis again?!