Saturday, August 15, 2009

(Re)-Learning To Play The Piano Is A Lot Like Life.

My Casio keyboard is standing against the wall in my room. I've made up my mind I'm going to find someone to teach me to play the piano by ear. I refuse to fight with sheet music any more. I found an audio course on the net by Bill Brown, who provides Music By Ear" lessons for very reasonable prices.

I made a CD of the first course and took off for two weeks of cat-sitting in a house with a real Grand piano! I indulged those silly images of me wow-ing some audience somewhere. But I played the piano in college and I know it can be done. I forgot about the "frustration" element.

Of course the first few lessons were a breeze. Mary Had A Little Lamb never sounded so good. Heck, this is EASY!

Then Mr. Brown brought me back to reality. I learned the C major scale. I remembered some of the cross-over, Cross-under finger movements, so I proceeded, perhaps a bit slower.

Then he taught me something totally new. In every key, there are chords built within that key. My job was to learn the chords: C, F, and G. How to move from Chord to chord with each hand separately, and then (the real challenge) playing both hands at the same time.

Years ago I injured the fourth finger on the right hand, the ring finger. It is permanently bend up at the joint closest to the fingertip. Playing notes without adding that lazy fourth finger is do-able, but playing three fingers at once and not laying down that fourth finger is darn near impossible.

I quickly found that I can tolerate a total practice time of ten minutes. Half on scales and the rest of the time on those dreaded chords. I see progress, but only at a snails pace. I believe it is this very frustrating time of drill learning which keeps many people from continuing with an instrument. How many times in life have I gotten bogged-down and just quit?

Yeah, my sorry blundering will clear up into correctly played chords and tunes. My time will increase, but I have to be patient and consistent. That "a little bit everyday" routine. I can do this like a motorist at a stoplight gunning the engine, or I can accept reality and relax. Slow is not the same thing as making NO progress. That is, unless I just walk away in disgust and let someone else learn to play, while I drift into jealousy. It is a situation entirely within my control.

I choose to hit it again tomorrow for at least ten minutes and I'll report from time to time, as my skill level increases.

Say "ba-bye" To Ethics: Thanks Microsoft

I never thought I'd see a business so blatantly abandon all ethics.

When times were good Microsoft gave away free domains for life when you signed up for Office Live. After the passing of time they had to change the terms. Existing "free" domains stayed that way, but the new people. You've now gotta pay. That's fair, as we've all watched the current economic upheaval. But now EVERYBODY pays. "Free" isn't "Free" anymore.

Microsoft's addition to this year's lexicon: "Its a change".

Microsoft back pedals on "free domain for life": Buzz Out Loud #1038:
Enjoy this pod cast. They do an excellent job with this sad tale.