Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Learning Something New

Don't you love learning new things? I--don't. I'm not very adventuresome, and I don't like being nudged--or thrown--out of my comfort zone. But at the same time, there are things I wished I knew, so occasionally I will take that leap to attempt to improve myself.
This week that leap involves the piano. I can already play both piano and organ ... adequately. Meaning, I can use either instrument to accompany the song service at church and my playing does not hinder the singing. I only play occasionally, when the regular piano or organ player can't be there, and my goal is to be good enough so that people don't notice I'm playing. Sometimes I achieve that and sometimes I don't. I can play hymns, but I really struggle with arrangements.
I finally decided I needed to improve on this skill. So I told my husband I wanted Majesty Music's Hymnplayer series for Christmas. I'm pretty sure just having those books sitting on my piano will make me a better player. (insert wicked grin here.)But seriously, eventually I will open them and hopefully learn to improve.
In the meantime we had an evangelist and his family here and his wife plays the piano. She had several good songs that she played that week for her family to sing, and I asked if I could take a look at her music. Most of it ended up being plain white sheets with the words to the song handwritten on them. An occasional chord was penciled in. Oh great! She was one of those. The kind that can play anything. Then she told me she could teach me to play by ear.
Okay, in the first place the whole mental image cracks me up. But aside from that, I was pretty sure that playing by ear came naturally. Either you had the talent, or you didn't. I don't. But then she explained that anyone could do it, and she showed me how. It has to do a lot with music theory (which I never learned) so I didn't pick it up instantly. But I understand the concept, and I dare to think it's possible. If I can learn to do this, then I should have no problem the next time someone asks me if I can play in a different key. Neither should I have a problem accompanying someone who wants to get creative and change keys for the second verse. If this works, I could be one of those people that can play a song without music, spontaneously, without a problem.
I could actually advance from a second-rate musician that's good only as a fill-in, to someone who actually has true confidence and ability when they need to step up to the instrument. I could actually be good--or at least slightly more than adequate.
Now, it will take a little practice before I can hone this new-found information into actually skill. I'll let you know how it goes.
And I still want that Hymnplayer series. It needs to be sitting on the piano, just in case.


  1. Wow I need one of those people to encourage me that i can do it. With Alberto gone we have no piano player...not a pretty sight. There is a girl that can play if I get her to stay in church :) but only until feb that she moves back to Germany. I should try to learn but.... I am one of those people that think cannot do it.... It is cool to see you encouraged. I am sure by the time we go back to the States you will be amazing player.

  2. Thanks for the encouraging words, Pilar. Of course, she showed me this technique Saturday night. I haven't had a chance to touch the piano since then. Maybe it'll just seep into my head while I'm sleeping? : )


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