Friday, January 26, 2007


"He wakes up musing on the beauty of the major scale and its unique multiplicity."

A friend of mine just began taking piano lessons (though not with me) and he called on Wednesday night, frustrated but oh-so-curious, and a little nervous to ask me the big question. "My scale! Do I have to use these fingerings? I don't know...could you show me? Would you show me, before my next lesson?" As I held the phone away from my laughter (honestly, it was laughter over the intensity with which he posed these questions; there is nothing like an adult beginner student) he interpreted the silence: "Oh. Probably the last thing you want to do this weekend is talk about the C major scale. You're so far away from all that." But I replied, "Not at all. To be honest, there's nothing I love more than talking about the very fundamentals of piano playing. The scale: now that's a beautiful thing."

It truly is. Later I thought about how talking about the piano--about "thumb under" when practicing scales or, more elaborately, about desperate attempts to render some sort of satisfying performance accompaniment from the piano/vocal score of the Chichester Psalms--shows that the instrument, and the music, is my blood. If I didn't want to meet my friend in the hour between ballet class and mass at the church, even if to show him "1, 2, 3, thumb, 2, 3, 4" then I should STOP. And ask myself what I'm really about.


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