Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Teaching Old Fingers New Tricks

This week I could not make my fingers work on the piano.  I was making some vocal videos for the homeschool musical, and it was like I had all thumbs.  Even the song that was in the key of C (no black keys) was giving me trouble.  Grrrrr!

Don Music expresses my feelings perfectly at 0:50.

I want to be a better pianist with every fiber of my being.  It would sure make helping out with the musical a lot easier, but I'd also love to be able to accompany for camp or church--either for congregational singing, or to play while I sing.  Moreover, I simply enjoy playing piano (when I'm not all thumbs).

I sort of blame my mother for my lack of piano skills.  

***flashback harp music***

One fall, my sister and I desperately wanted to take piano lessons, but we didn't have a piano in the house.  It was coming up on Christmas time, and we suggested to our parents that maybe we could get a piano as a family gift that year.  When Mom took Melody and me to Schmidt Music Center (the big music store attached to the warehouse--so you can get almost anything you want right away), we were downright giddy.  Mel and I were plinking around on the different pianos on display.  There were so many.  The baby grand was so black and shiny, but we'd be happy with an upright, of course.  Well...I'm not sure how it happened, but we went home with an organ.  An organ?!  We didn't want to learn how to play the organ.  And sure, pianos and organs look similar, but they are played very differently.  So, for years that organ sat in the corner of our living room.  We goofed around on it from time to time, but we used the tape player (built into the organ, for some reason) more than the organ itself.  

***back-to-the-now harp music***

I'm still not completely sure why my mom bought an organ back then.  I think it was something she had always wanted to learn to play, but she never had time to take lessons after she bought the organ.  (She had five young kids and worked part-time as a nurse.)  A few years ago, she bought a newer organ with all kinds of fancy gizmos and gadgets on it.  She's been taking lessons now that all of us kids are grown up.  (She bought a nice RV this summer, and the main stipulation for it was that she'd have to be able to fit her organ inside.)  So, I'm happy for her, that she's finally been able to enjoy playing like she's always wanted to.  It just makes me sad to think that we could've had a piano in the corner of the living room all of those years.  Think how good I'd be by now!

Now, I can't really blame my mother for my lack of piano skills.  I've had years now with a piano in close proximity.  I can only blame myself.  

I decided to amend Resolution #4 to give priority to piano right now and work more on violin and ukulele when the musical is over (beginning of May).  Today I played piano for fun, as opposed to doing it because I had to for the musical.  And it was fun!  I noticed that I'm going to be done with Lesson Book 2 soon, so I went on Amazon and ordered Lesson Book 3 and a music theory book (and the next phonics book for Samuel).  So, I guess these old fingers are learning new tricks.  It just didn't feel like it last night.  


  1. Good for you! Old people can learn stuff, too! I set the uke aside while I was finishing up the VW and keep thinking about getting back to it. You've inspired me.

    1. Glad to be of service! = )

    2. The book that Rebecca mentioned below has an entire chapter on the ukulele.

  2. For the record, no matter how many lessons you have behind you, those "thumb days" still happen. I do find playing for fun can be a big help. If you're ever looking for tips or run into a problem, feel free to contact me. Also, you might enjoy the book The First 20 Hours by Josh Kaufman. It is about rapid skill acquisition and has some interesting points about how to get the most out of practice time.

    Happy playing!

    1. Thanks, Rebecca! I appreciate that.

      Our library doesn't have that book, but several pages of it are up on Amazon, and there's a 20 minute video of the author talking about this on YouTube. I'll watch it this weekend. Looks like good stuff!