Thursday, May 23, 2013
Their piano room is not unlike the one I enjoyed growing up in; a sunny room where board games and books had a home. It is a room of comfy couches and framed family photos. It is where people gather to talk, play tournaments of Scrabble, watch television, play video games and of course listen and play music. Their piano room feels like home to me; full of life and memories.
I can tell within 5 minutes, if a practice environment is uninspiring. If no one including the family cat or dog doesn't know of a spot to relax near the piano, chances are naming that particular spot the music room will not be a winning match. If only dust bunnies feel welcome in the room while everyone else socializes in another room, chances are anyone wanting to practice will feel as lonely as a book forgotten in a corner.
For a young learner, will it not be against their best interest to have the piano in an active space? Shouldn't the piano be in a more formal and quiet space away from the distraction of family life?
I've taught in a home where a beautiful Steinway graced a formal gathering part of the home. It was austere with not a dust bunny in sight. A beautiful place to have a family concert. Still, it was not an easy place for little boys to naturally bring themselves. They were the youngest boys of a large family. The tumbling and full of energy sort. They literally came into their piano lesson each week through the back garden, breathless from playing outside. They were fine and full of cheer during our piano time together but I am not quite sure they entered the room in the same spirit when I wasn't there.
I never had a quiet formal room to practice.
I may have had a small keyboard that I played in my room but it never got the kind of love that I had for the piano. I didn't mind. The piano rooms at school lent some solitude but not quiet. The reality of life was that absolute quiet and privacy was a treat and not the norm.
My brothers and I survived having a piano, television AND family computer in the same room. Sometimes my piano competed against video game music. Most of the time my brothers and I exercised some form of social diplomacy. Mom always requested that I play.
A piano isn't LOUD LOUD. Conversations and television programs can still continue and share sound space. I know playing didn't always refrain someone from wanting to start a conversation. That's how comfortable the space was.
Conquering distraction is a daily exercise and perhaps easier for a young person to consider than feelings of isolation or missing out feelings. Put them in a room where they are out of earshot of all family activity; it may feel too much like their punitive time outs.
A place to relax, to think and to share...and feel very much at home.
K: "I just need a little table next to my piano so I can have a snack and glass of water nearby. That would be perfect."
JNET: "That would be. You don't want to put food or a drink on a piano. It would be very sad to have a spill."
I like hearing how my students set up camp to practice.
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
R opened a brand new world of sports to me. I never paid attention before, not knowing when playoffs were going on let alone knowing when Superbowl weekend was.
Sitting down to sports was my punishment when I was little; a several hours of timeout time whenever I did something naughty.
I grew up keeping a busy distance from all things sports that it is ironic that I am dating someone that is very very fond of sports. R's fondness for sports had me unsure during the beginning of our relationship. Watching sports was punishment to me, not a happy bonding time. I had a head full of “what ifs” that my girlfriends helped me de-clutter so I may have perspective.
Football season was in the horizon as well as plans to take a break from dance classes.
JNET: ”What if sports is more important than me? What if his fondness for sports trumps taking part in family events? Will he ignore conversations and get swallowed up in innings and quarters? I remember spending hours with my dad to watch a game but I can’t remember ever talking.”
N: ”JNET, there are other vices. R is good to you. I wouldn’t worry.”
Still I had other what-if’s…
What if sports becomes this terrible reason to not relate to each other and he wishes he had a girlfriend that wouldn’t get the teams’ names confused and who knows how to throw the perfect Superbowl party? What if sports opens up a monster in him and the sweet man I know turns into an angry, violent man that screams at the television or at me?
These are the thoughts that weighed upon my mind last year. And yes, I realize that I make up funny stuff to lose sleep over.
We made it through football season, I’m following the basketball playoffs and I even know that baseball season is still at its beginning. I’ve even earned coolness status points with my piano students that take part and have a love for sports. Random trivia for you – Did you know that Kobe Bryant knows how to play Beethoven and that Jeremy Lin practices the piano regularly?????
R made sports time fun even if it was just a party of us two. Our abs exercise regime went on off-season though. OMG….CARBS!!! We celebrated with pizza and fried chicken and relaxed. We took a break from dance practices but we attended church each week. We never missed a day at church due to a game. Sometimes we cuddled in the couch, sometimes I disappeared to do my own thing and sometimes i played the piano while he watched (setting the television volume very low). And always, he would pat the couch and invite me to return.
I didn’t turn into SPORTS WIDOW!
We attended a few games this past year, enjoying a couple of Dodger Stadium dates and my first ever basketball game. To get me ready for our sports dates, Roland would surprise me with a cute tee to wear for the special night out. The fun memories make for a good list: learning about different leagues; American versus National, learning the rules of the games, packing picnics, cute tees, a pullover and hello kitty night at Dodger Stadium.
We’ve also been enjoying movies and documentaries on sports figures. So many inspiring lives; athletes that press themselves past great odds, coaches that inspire greatness.
Coach Firefly taught me a lot this year and made it fun. I never felt ignored or forgotten. He did yell at the television a couple of times though. But I never for a moment felt less than loved.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
"If you can't fly, then run, if you can't run then walk,
if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do
you have to keep moving forward."
Martin Luther King, Jr.
There are at least half a dozen ways to crawl.
My pace at writing is slower than other seasons and it frustrates me. I find myself getting lost in measures of silence; a habit that I would like to break. I'm fine when I dance and when I teach my students; doing activities where I have great confidence.
But writing and being succinctly expressive in finding choice words and even carrying on an eloquent conversation has me feeling wobbly. What was my affirmation again? I have it written on a mirror that I keep in my patio garden.
"I am the possibility of unstoppable love, courage, self-expression and transformation."
Though silence has been my gold these past couple of years; it has atrophied aspects of me. I suppose it would be easy to simply fade away and get absorbed by the noise of life. But I have a voice; a signature that wants to defy invisibility. And so I crawl, sometimes flopping around on my belly, sometimes on one leg while I drag my body...only wishing to move forward despite my awkwardness.
I've committed to pod-casting, hosting a half-hour show with my friend D, each week. We've had our share of technical blunders and bloopers managing to laugh our way past them. Despite slips and awkward moments, D says she looks forward to our weekly podcast conversation. She encourages me. I'm notorious for not lasting two minutes on a phone conversation without feeling annoyed. Lasting thirty minutes in good cheer has been a weekly miracle.
Hosting a podcast in the morning while still in my pajamas is a world different from standing in front of a room of real people... Oh yeah.... I've also returned to toastmasters this year but in a dipping my toe in the pool sort of way; visiting a new club every week or so.
I recently enjoyed a fleeting moment of words and ideas leaving my mouth in good order. People got on their feet and applauded at a recent visit while doing an impromptu speech at the podium. I was scared and was shaking but no one seemed to notice. It felt good to know I moved my audience. Someone admitted that they started taking notes. And my boyfriend was very proud. I guess I actually "stood up" for the moment.
I feel like I'm still crawling but my "legs" are feeling stronger. I hope to not feel as stiff in my movements or choice of words in expressing myself as time goes by. Perhaps it is all muscle memory....to be freely self-expressive and eloquent takes practice.
Here's to practicing.