Saturday, August 10, 2013

Now comes the boring part

This is a brief story of what happens when you skip establishing the proper foundation right at the beginning.

Having learned to play the organ when I was young, I never had any formal piano instruction until I began taking lessons six years ago. At the time, because I was an adult, and not very savvy about these things, I basically told my instructor, I don’t care how I play, I just want to sound good. Recognizing that he was half my age and he had to do what I said if he wanted me to pay him, he diligently taught me what I thought I wanted to learn. If I asked about technique and skill improvement, he helped me, but he never force fed me what I didn't want to eat. Not so my new instructor.

He said, before I really said much of anything about why I wanted to take lessons this time around, “Really, in order to play better, you have to improve your technique.” I knew what this meant, but demurely asked a one word question: “Scales?”

“Scales,” came the one word answer.

So, I’m playing scales. In the interest of getting the fingering down and not stultifying my brain too much right at the start, I’m doing contrary motion two-handed scales. That way, the same fingers are always doing the same thing at the same time, hopefully programming my muscles to hit the correct keys at the correct time. It’s not refreshing, but it is somewhat invigorating to be tackling these rote sort of tasks at long last. So this week’s project is contrary and parallel scales in C, G, D, A, and E. I’ll probably go ahead and push on to at least B so that by next week, I’ll be halfway finished. Honestly, I don’t know if I can get there by next Tuesday, but we’ll see.

Kids, learn your scales now and don’t cry. You’ll thank me later.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sprucing up for a piano purchase

With the imminent purchase of a baby grand piano, we've been trying to figure out where to put all the furniture that is going to be displaced by it. As we've done so, we've made the realization that our house needs major overhauling in the process. The other realization that Mrs. S and I have both made is that our values have changed and as far as furniture and knickknacks go, we have a lot of stuff that we were once attached to which now we don’t care about so much. Along with everything else, we are noticing how neglected our house is and how much stuff needs attention. Rather than torture ourselves, we've decided to spend the money and get fixed what needs fixing. Here’s where we are.

Our big plan is to get rid of all the carpeting in the house. We are going to do that by replacing the worn, torn, cat-puked and pissed on carpeting in the last four carpeted rooms we have with hardwood in all four rooms. We’ll therefore have to buy some rugs to put down on the floors so we don’t end up living in a damn echo chamber and also to give the rooms a little warmer feeling. (We have in fact already purchased one hand-woven wool rug and a pad for under the piano.) The cost for having the flooring done will be substantial, but not unmanageable, and it will leave us with much more livable conditions. It’s a big first step that takes a long time to start, but we have already received two quotes, so we’re getting close.

I replaced two non-working blinds in my study with off-the-shelf faux woods blinds from Lowes. The room looks 100% better. We also ordered custom made blinds for the future music room. That will replace two broken blinds and displace one working blind that we will move to Mrs. S’s study, where we will dispose of the one that is broken in her room. Nice.

Tyler meditating behind the sun room curtains.
We looked around our sun room yesterday and were thinking about the furniture when we suddenly just decided to throw it out. I hauled a glider, three chairs, and all the necessary cushions, plus one for a chaise (long gone) to the curb. Within five minutes, we had somebody packing them into their Pontiac Vibe. After the furniture was gone, Mrs. S took the vacuum to the sun room and we moved our new cat condo into it, and wallowed in the extra space that we got from doing that.

Roosevelt posing on the cat condo.
Our kitchen sink backed up around the disposal and leaked water all over the rugs we had set there, so we took those out to dry them and are looking to replace them.

We gave away our fish tank, along with the fish and everything that goes with it, to a guy where I work. He even agreed to take the extra one we have up in our attic. Less time feeding fish and cleaning the tank, more time playing the piano.

Stuff for donation: two pieces of exercise gear, a printer, a scanner, some T-shirts, my Nintendo Wii, bunch of Mrs. S’s clothes. Like that.

I’m also going to throw out my old computer.

I threw out eight cans of old paint. I have about eight more that I need to get rid of. I need to clean out the garage in general while I’m at it, especially where the mice got into the birdseed. What a mess.

And, I start back to piano lessons on Tuesday with a different instructor. We’ll see how that goes.