October 21, 2011


I had my first piano lesson on Tuesday. I have to say, I’m pretty stoked.

For those of you out of the loop, I played the viola for about 13 years—from the time I was 10 until I graduated with my masters. (The viola is a bigger, mellower version of the violin. Played under the chin.) I loved the viola, but it did not love me quite as much. I had really bad back and shoulder pain from playing. I was only ever pretty good. I managed to play in the back of Ithaca’s symphony as a music minor, but I certainly couldn’t feed myself by playing viola.

Even though I don’t really play anymore, music pervades my life. This has been even truer since H’s birth. She loves music. Loves to listen to it, dance to it, and sing it. I sing to her every day. She also loves the piano. H was probably more excited than I was when I opened my keyboard on my birthday. H begs to play piano every day. She sits on my lap, and I manage to get a fair amount of practice in while she “plays” along.

I’ve been feeling a real itch to have a regular adult activity and to get back in touch with my music. With the fall coming up I told Josh that I either wanted to join the Dover community orchestra or take up the piano. As much of a physical pain as the viola was, there is no feeling like sitting in the middle of an orchestra and hearing the music swirling around you. Where else can you find 60 plus people working in perfect unity to create one piece of art? The music itself is masterful, of course. But that feeling of gestalt is incredible.

From a practical standpoint, I haven’t really practiced in years. So, I’m super rusty. I would also need a regular baby sitter for the three-hour rehearsals. With H starting school, I can work in a piano lesson while she’s gone. I’m also attracted to the newness, I admit.

It is just as fabulous to be making music as I hoped it would be. My teacher is a very nice fellow spouse who respects my prior music knowledge. Being able to read treble clef definitely helps a great deal. I’m working on the bass clef. Sometimes I can fake it and play by intervals, but my brain keeps trying to switch into alto clef, which is what I used for viola. (For you non-music people, it’s like knowing Spanish and Italian already but now needing to understand French as well. You will pick up a bunch just because it’s similar, but you still have to actually learn it.)

Either way, sitting at the piano and actually having some vague idea of what I’m doing is empowering and fun. I left my lesson feeling happier and bouncier and more excited about new beginnings than I have for a while. That can only be good. I just finished practicing and my hands are rather tired from stretching and pounding. I can feel the tendons and sinews stretch and even protest slightly as I try to hit the chords and feel where my fingers need to be. I feel the smoothness and weight of the keys under my fingers. The viola only has four strings; the piano has 88 keys. It’s a lot to take in. While the ache in my hands might signal that it’s time to pause in my practicing, my brain is whirring with the new information and the possibilities. I’m looking forward to the real music—both the great composers and the Christmas carol sing-along I’m envisioning.

I’m also eyeing the piano from my spot at here at the keyboard, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find myself back there for a few minutes before bed.


  1. I didn't want to take piano lessons when I was a child because I didn't know how to play the piano. It's probably my biggest regret in life. I've also been wanting to learn (but I took ballet instead for now). Now, I feel even more inclined to do it knowing that you are doing it all the way over there. On a completely unrelated note, your writing has progressed in such a fantastic way from when you started your blog. Nice work.

  2. You should totally take piano! We can play duets. And thank you for the kind words on my writing. I started making an effort to be a little more narrative, and I think it's paying off.

  3. Jamie--I'm glad you found someone whose schedule works out better for you than mine did. Hope you enjoy learning!


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