A childhood memory

[Note. I just intended to post a video, but somehow this post went in a completely different direction afterwards. I think that’s okay (occasionally) so am leaving it as is.]

There’s a grand piano at Lilies restaurant, and my piano tuner Gerard Wilkinson will be tuning it next week. He’s coming to tune my Beale and I’m happy that the resort will engage him too. I stopped by the other day on the way back from school and played it for a while. Hopefully, after it’s been tuned, we can play it more again, some cocktail singalongs for the local community would be nice.

Quick piano medley at Lilies restaurant, The Kooralbyn Valley

Social media needs things to be short, so here were just a few seconds of Bachianinha No.1 (Paulinho Nogueira), some vamping over C minor and F (Feelin’ Alright, Joe Cocker) and Arabesque No.1 (Claude Debussy).

I need to thank Gold Coast-based cellist Catherine Goldspring for introducing me to Bachianinha No.1, I don’t think I would have come across this by myself.

Also big ❤️s to my student Abi who wanted to learn Arabesque No. 1. At first I mentally rolled my eyes at the idea, thinking we were in for a long chore. But the song is perfectly doable and an outpouring of warm fuzziness goes from me to Abi when I play this piece now. Abi is about halfway through it, and what she plays is slightly quicker and more fluid than me. My fingers are getting old now, but I’m perfectly happy with how I’m playing these days. In fact, I would say it’s much easier for me to learn new music now.

Technically, I’m nowhere as flexible as when I was young, but my metal state is so much better! I have patience and savour the journey so much more. Reaching the end is quite secondary to the immediate adventure. When you pause and find the correct notes first time round (rather than be hasty and press a wrong one), the music is beautiful, even when it is played so much more slowly than intended. I am taking time to listen to the combination of notes and just appreciate the colours and shades and change in direction called up with each accidental.

I also find myself delighting in the realisation that I can read these black dots! I don’t take it for granted now. This is like reading a story. The joy is in the discovery; there’s a bit of work involved but there is no experience to be had unless you do it.

I find myself going to the piano more and more these days. I think a little part of me becomes a girl again in Hampshire, England, playing the upright piano in her living room while mum is in the kitchen. England’s often overcast, and when a cloud passed over and the room went dark, I imagined an omnipresent god disapproving of my performance. Conversely when the sun reappeared, I figured I’d done a good job. What a random way to measure my progress! I am now inclined to think that life is all a bit like that, with the results of our heartfelt intentions and efforts being compiled much more arbitrarily than we would care to think. All the more reason to just be grateful for just this day.

Well I didn’t expect to write all that. I wonder if one day one of my students will have a memory like that? I hope so.

Watercolour of me by my cousin, artist and illustrator Mary Funk

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