If My Head Gets Any Bigger…

Superior…I won’t be able to fit through the door. About 3 years ago I started taking piano lessons. About a month ago, I was adjudicated by the National Federation of Music Clubs. I’m not totally sure what the NFMC is all about, but it was yet another opportunity for me to play in public so I jumped at it.

I believe it has something to do with encouraging American composers. I was required to play two pieces; one by an American composer and one by a composer of my choice. I played Get With It by Stanford King and The Spinning Song by Albert Ellmenreich.

The adjudication was at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and I performed my two pieces in front of a judge, an administrator, and my family. Other participants had to perform in large concert halls with, maybe, 50 people there. Mine was in a classroom. I think that was probably a good thing. I was nervous enough as it was.

By the end of the first piece, my hands were shaking so bad that I’m surprised I could hit the proper keys. It must not have been as bad as it seemed, though, because I go the highest grade – Superior.

I can’t figure out why I get nervous in those situations. Nobody is forcing me to play the piano. If I totally blow it, who would care? Not the judge, not the administrator, not my family. I guess I would care and maybe that’s the problem. Last Sunday I played in the annual recital that my instructor holds each year for her students. There were about 150 people there and I was surprisingly calm. My instructor says it’s because this little recital seems insignificant compared to the NFMC, and that I’m just getting more comfortable. A little Tanguray before hand didn’t hurt either.

5 thoughts on “If My Head Gets Any Bigger…

  1. Congratulations Dick! Public performance is never easy, so you are to be doubly commended for your superior performance. When will the CD be available?

    By the way, I couldn’t help but notice that your certificate states that it is for an “Adult Solo”. It sounds kinda dirty. Does that mean you played in the buff, like Terry Jones of Monty Python?

  2. Thanks Toad.

    “When will the CD be available?”

    Learning MIDI is on my list of goals. Once I get that down, I’ll need a new harddrive just for keyboard files.

    ” like Terry Jones of Monty Python”

    Ah, if only I was that attractive naked.

  3. Hi,
    I just found your web site and really found all your Excel functions very useful, but I was delighted to read about your piano playing.
    I’ve always wanted to learn piano but I feel too old to learn (I’ll be 50 this year), so it’s encouraging to know that you can be good at it even if you are not a kid. May I ask how you practiced each day? Did you start with classical music, learning simplified versions of Mozart, etc.? Was your teacher a classically-trained pianist? I once took classes from a jazz pianist and enjoyed it but didn’t retain much of the notes since she encouraged me to improve more than memorize. But I think you need a bit of both. What do you think?

  4. veritasca: Thanks for reading. My advice is: Do it! It’s been a very rewarding hobby for me. My teacher is classically trained (Juliard) but is very well rounded. She plays the Mountain Dulicemer professionally and most of her students are voice, not piano. But I like her personality and think she’s a very good teacher. Find someone you like personally and who has adequate or better technical ability. If you’re doing it as a hobby, like me, then I think it’s important to find someone you like. Improvising is important, but so is playing pieces in the style of the composer. So, I agree, you need both. I think theory and memorization are key early on.

    At my first lesson, my teacher asked me what kind of music I wanted to play. I said blues. While we worked our way through Alfred’s Adult Course, she taught me the blues scales and the 12-bar blues. It was a nice mix that kept me interested. Now instead of 50% blues, I play about 10% blues and 90% classical. Once I started playing classical pieces, I realized that I enjoyed that challenge more.

    I practice about six hours a week. That’s real practice time, no screwing around. I usually have about four songs I’m working on, so I’ll run through those spending as much time as I need on difficult parts, etc. Then I’ll work on scales, arpegios, chords in different positions and other things that aren’t too exciting, but I know are important. And if I have time, I like to run through some songs that I’ve already learned but are off the radar. I just don’t want to forget them after putting in the effort to learn them.

    I had an interesting lesson tonight. I played about 50 notes. That’s it. The rest of the time we talked about what my goals as a piano player are/should be. I still don’t know what they are, but it was nice to be able to talk about it and get some ideas. One thing we decided was that I wasn’t going to quite my job to make a living playing piano. Over the summer I’m going to concentrate on sight reading (playing a new piece start to finish). It should be fun.

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