As mentioned before, I’ve been deathmarching through a variety of projects lately. But my brain has hit the stage of “no worky don’ wanna YOU CAN’T MAKE ME” this afternoon, so I think a brief break might be in order. First I played a bit of piano, and now I figure I’ll talk about how that’s going.
1) As mentioned last year, when I spent a few hours dusting off my piano skills, I am slooooow at reading music. I do okay with stuff inside the treble clef, but once you involve ledger lines or (god help me) the bass clef, it gets trickier. And I’m prone to forgetting accidentals. I spend a fair bit of time peering at the music stand, and make more than a few mistakes.
2) My hands have also forgotten a lot. One of the basic skills of piano-playing is knowing how to position your fingers to play a third or a fifth or whatever, how far to shift your arm to move up an octave. I allllllmost remember that stuff, but not well enough ton trust my hands to do it without looking. (When I try, sometimes it works — and sometimes I miss by just the right interval for it to sound horrible.)
3) And yet, having said all that . . .
. . . sometimes I can just play.
I don’t mean the stuff I can just play by reflex. I mean that sometimes I’m peering at the music, going “okay, that’s an E-flat and, uh, what is that note –” and then I realize that while I was busy doing that, my hand went ahead and played it. Without me even knowing what I’m doing.
It happens the most often on pieces I used to play. Not the ones I memorized (the ones I can play by reflex — when I don’t totally blank on how they go), but things I played fifteen or twenty years ago. But sometimes it happens with new things, too, the ones that are arrangements of pieces I know. It’s because I know how they should sound: either from playing them before, or from listening to them a lot. And some part of my brain goes “this is how you make that sound,” without going through the intervening steps of reading the music or figuring out which keys to hit.
When that happens, it’s my sense of pitch at the wheel. I know the sounds, and they happen. Given more practice, I think it will return to a more conscious level of control, rather than the weird subconscious instinct it is right now. But at the moment? It’s freaky, man. <g>
Anyway, I have a whole pile of sheet music now: a lot of it old, some of it new, not all of it within reach of my skills even when I had ’em. But I intend to keep on trying . . . .