Taking Piano Lessons

Happiness is playing my pianoI have begun something I should have done a long time ago. I have always wanted to continue taking piano lessons. My last lesson was when I was working towards my master’s degree, about 12 years ago. Recently I sent an email to the director of keyboard studies at the local university to inquire if he might be available to take on an extra student (me!). He very graciously agreed to meet and discuss the possibility.

At our first meeting, I was amazed. We met in his home, where he greeted me at the front door and led me up to the second floor concert hall. Jaw-dropping. The whole upper level is a huge concert hall filled with two grand pianos (one Baldwin, the other Steinway), an upright piano, chairs in rows, round tables. I mean, he has his own concert hall.

After chatting about my background, goals, etc. I played Debussy Arabesque No. 1. Even upon that first meeting, I picked up nuggets of information from him that has greatly enhanced my playing. Really, he is an encyclopedia of knowledge. He has played everything, met everyone, and is so fun to talk with. I hope to be so personable and inspiring in my teaching.

A few takeaways from the first meeting:

  1. He asked me technical questions in a very non-threatening way. He would phrase his questions like this: “What does andantino (for example) mean to you?” or “How would you teach this to your students?”
  2. He told me that he plays the piano with his arms, not his fingers. The movement is on a much larger scale than just playing with fingers. This idea of gesture really helped me in a section of Debussy’s PagodesĀ which I started learning after our first meeting.
  3. An illustration he used – say you have a poster hanging on a wall in your room. After awhile you get used to it and hardly notice it is there. If you move it to another wall you start noticing it once again. This happens in music – you know how to play legato or andante, but taking those skills to a different piece helps to freshen those skills and renew your focus.

I am thrilled to be taking lessons again, and to be taking them from this particular teacher, whom I will affectionately refer to as Wonderful Teacher (WT). I’d like to update the blog lesson by lesson on the things I am learning about teaching and about the music itself. It’s going to be a great adventure.