reprioritising

Last night I sat down at the piano for the first time in about 1-2 months. Before that, I had been practising less and less due to a combination of being busy with other things and being lazy. Last night I decided that I had to recommit.

I’m certainly not at the stage of being able to return to piano after a long absence and pick it up again easily. Indeed, I’m not sure that I’ll ever get to that stage, since I don’t have a natural aptitude for music, but I’ll be darned if I don’t try. I hadn’t even looked at sheet music in these last several weeks, so I had to start from the start, playing scales to become reacquainted with the notes.

What I realised last night — or re-realised, because this is certainly nothing new — is that I need to be more consistent with my piano practice if I want to improve and be able to play with any level of proficiency. It’s a thought that has been gnawing away at me for a while, but I’ve been sweeping it under the proverbial rug instead of doing something about it.

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much to do

Not feeling much like writing this week because of being busy with life. Not overly busy, but just doing things. Here’s a run down:

I’ve been continuing with trying to learn Russian, but now I’ve decided to use two different websites instead of relying on just one. The one I’ve added (Memrise) has the benefit of having recordings of actual people saying the words and phrases, which you’d hope is more accurate and true to real Russian.

If I try to do even just a little bit of learning every day, I’m hoping I can get decent level in a few years or so. I have a book of Russian stories I’d like to be able to read one day, but I know that day is quite far away (unless I really dedicate a significant amount of time to learning).

As for other reading, after realising that I haven’t been sticking to my own advice to someone else about reading a little bit every day, I’ve been trying to make sure I read a bit whenever I can. Sure, it’s not quite back to a daily habit yet, but I think I’m making more progress with War and Peace than I was, say, a month or two ago.

Speaking of War and Peace, I’ve discovered that I’m more engaged with the book in the parts about the relationships between people, and their lives in Russia. On the other hand, my brain seems to tire more quickly from reading about battles and warfare. Only when there is some description of the individual human experience in the war, do I become more captivated. I think perhaps it’s just harder for me to picture the landscapes and battalion manoeuvres and whatnot than to picture a bunch of people sitting around a drawing room or dining table. 

Either way, I’m still enjoying the book overall, and am far enough along that I can start to have delusions of possibly finishing the book by the end of the year. Only thing I want to add is that I read in the introduction or blurb or somewhere that Pierre is the character most like Tolstoy himself. However, I’ve so far found Pierre to be one of the least likeable characters, which I think is confusing my brain because in Anna Karenina, Levin was the most autobiographical character, and he was my favourite.

Writing this post, I’ve really come to realise that I’ve given myself a lot of things to do that require consistent and frequent effort. The next on the list is piano. I’m very aware that I need to practise piano a lot more than I have been if I want to ever get any good at it, and be able to play the kind of music that I want to play. Of course, in this I have no delusions, as I seem to spend more time on learning Russian and reading books, which seem a lot easier.

Perhaps another area that has been a bit neglected is the garden. After all this rain, the plants are flourishing, but so are the weeds. And I think too much rain builds that complacency of “we don’t need to worry about watering the garden today”, and it quietly slips from the daily routine.

But the clouds have dispersed for now, and the sun has come out. It is the start of the week-end, and there is much to do!

merry Monday

Well, as merry as a Monday can be, I suppose.

Today I had this joyful piece playing over and over in my head:

I find it quite merry and jolly, despite how fast and frantic it sounds. It quite matched the tempo of my Monday morning, anyway. One can be busy and in good spirits!

I’m quite chuffed that I now get classical music stuck in my head instead of run-of-the-mill pop songs. It’s certainly less irritating.

I’m also chuffed that I recognised this as something composed by Mozart. I guess they must play it on the radio quite a bit, but Mozart has composed so much that I thought my chances of hearing any singular piece enough times to recognise it as Mozart was quite slim.

Anyway, I think this Rondo Alla Turca has probably been used in TV and movies and whatnot, so maybe it might sound at least vaguely familiar to a lot of people, even if you aren’t a regular classical music fan.

music lessons

I had mentioned in my last post that I was learning to play the piano. This has been going on since January this year, and was a decision made on various factors. The main reason I wanted to learn piano (or any instrument at all) was because, after enjoying listening to classical music so much, I wanted to also know how to play it. I suppose it’s not too dissimilar to the desire to write being born from a love of reading.

All through primary school, weekly music classes were mandatory. For younger children, if I remember correctly, this consisted mostly of singing and learning about rhythm. From Grade 3 or 4, we were made to buy recorders, and were taught how to read sheet music. Continue reading

mad rush

I heard this on the radio the other day, and knew I’d heard it before. I just wasn’t sure who the composer was or what the piece was called.

I was cooking at the time, and continued to tend to the pot on the stove, but I listened intently, determined to hear the presenter give the details of the piece once it was over.

It was Philip Glass’ Mad Rush.

Incredible, captivating music for thinking or not thinking. Maybe just for feeling.

mirrors

In the last two years, I’ve listened to more and more classical music. I don’t go to concerts or buy records, but if I’m at home, I’ll probably have the radio on ABC Classic. I used to always listen to that station in the car as well, but I tend to spend more time listening to my Persian/Farsi lessons now.

It’s interesting, though, that after all this time listening to classical music, I don’t feel like I know much more about it. I can recognise the names of a lot more composers, but if you just played me a piece of music, I probably would not be able to tell you who wrote it (except maybe Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, which is quite distinct, but you’d have to play the right part for me to recognise). Continue reading