When my freshman year of college began, I stopped playing the piano. This wasn’t an intentional decision. I didn’t consciously think, “I’m going to stop practicing,” but stop practicing I did.
It had a lot to do with time. As in, I didn’t have much of it.
College eats up so much time. I mean, it should – you’re there to get an education, not fritter away the hours. My mom has said that you should treat it like having a full-time job. So it’s not surprising that between going to class and doing my homework, I didn’t have much free time for things such as musical instrument practice.
And whenever I did have any free time I usually used it for sleeping. I slept a lot last school year. Thanks, depression.
I moved into my new dorm room a week before school started because I had volunteered to help freshmen move in but since my move-in crew duties actually didn’t take that long, I had a lot of free time. My current dorm has two baby grand pianos – well, actually my dorm has one and the dorm building we’re connected to has another, but it’s just easier to say that my dorm has two pianos.
The dorm I lived in last year didn’t have a piano. My current dorm is actually only about two or three hundred feet from last year’s dorm, but most days walking over here just seemed like too much effort. Now I don’t really have an excuse, though.
So I sat down at one of those baby grands the week before school started, and I tried to play.
And I failed. Miserably.
Well, that might be hyperbolic, because I did eventually regain some of my ability. But for a while I had no idea what I was doing. A few weeks prior to that I’d looked at a piece of sheet music and realized that I couldn’t remember which note was A and which was C. At the time I had dismissed it as being too tired to focus properly, but at the baby grand a few weeks ago I soon realized that I had, in fact, forgotten some of the basics.
I took piano lessons for eight years. (I think? It may have been nine.) I had no idea that my skills would disappear so quickly. I was surprised.
I eventually made my way through “Hedwig’s Theme” after about an hour of practice. It’s an easy arrangement, from a book of sheet music that I got when I was nine or ten, but I still struggled with it. I was so, so happy when everything finally clicked and the notes sounded just how I remembered, but it took me much longer to get there than I thought it would.
This put something of a damper on my hopes that I would be able to resume playing the piano as though I had never taken my year-long break in the first place. There are about three million songs that I’d like to learn how to play, but I clearly need to spend some time going over the basics if I’m to get anywhere at all.
I had, for instance, envisioned myself learning how to play the theme from Carol, one of my favorite movies, without a hitch, and… like, objectively it’s not that hard: Lots of repetition. But I also can’t tell the difference between A and C, apparently. THIS WILL TAKE A LOT WORK.
Lately I’ve also been quite taken with “Light of the Seven,” a piece from the Game of Thrones season six score by Ramin Djawadi.
It’s not only a gorgeous piece, but also one that makes significant use of a piano, which is REALLY COOL. There have been times in the past when I tried to play something from a film score and ended up disappointed because it didn’t sound quite right – many pieces from movies and TV shows aren’t written solely, or even largely, for the piano. So the piece sounds off, because you’re using a piano to imitate a completely different instrument.
ANYWAY. I LOVE THAT PIECE.
My goal this school year is to practice more often. Finding the time won’t be easy – I haven’t so much as touched a piano since that day in mid-August because I’ve been so busy doing homework and studying because I want THE BESTEST GRADES EVER this semester for REASONS – but I’m determined to make time.
And on that note, there’s just one more thing I want to tell you: I’m having so much fun finding pianos all over both campus and the town. I mean, I already knew about some of them, but every now and then I stumble across another one and I’m just like WOW SO MANY PIANOS and it’s glorious.
Where are the pianos I’ve found so far?
- Two in the dorm
- Three or four at the pedestrian mall
- One outside a coffeeshop where I occasionally study
- One in a tiny chapel near the river
- One at the Haunted Bookshop (which is only my favorite place EVER)
- A whole bunch in the School of Music’s student practice rooms (!!!!!!)
I’m hoping to make time to practice on the weekends, at the very least. Progress will probably be slow since I can’t practice every day, but it’s better than nothing – and I really miss playing the piano!
Do you play the piano or another musical instrument? Have you ever taken up a hobby again after a long break from it and found that you struggled with the activity?