Sunday, April 19, 2015

What is wrong with us?

I just saw the movie 'The Imitation Game' and was deeply affected by it as I usually am when a genius dies unnecessarily at a young age due to the utter foolishness of man.

Alan Turing died at 41. Committed suicide. Because he had to take these idiotic drugs to "cure" his homosexuality. My stomach turns.

41. I am 42. And I haven't even gotten started on my road yet.

This man who would have turned computing on its head, this man whose ideas are still revered today died at 41 because we are stupid and frightened of what we don't understand.

Even today I have friends ask me if I would be upset if my son/s were gay. Really? is it worth answering that question? It boggles the mind to think how far behind we still remain in the quest to being evolved individuals.

Color, race sexuality, religion still separates us because of suspicion and fear. Shooting people out of fear, war because of hatred and suspicion, persecution because some religious book or other said it was okay to do so.

The religion bit amuses me no end. It's man made, people! Religion wasn't made by God. God didn't write any of that stuff. We invented it. Whatever served the powers that be at that time designed it the way they saw fit. And if we take what they deigned to tell us is the way to live, then God help us all...

Anyway, I digress. The death of a great mind at a young age is what we are talking about. The Alan Turing thing reminded me of one of my favorite writers--Oscar Wilde--also persecuted in his case, imprisoned for indecency (read homosexual behavior). He died in prison. Tragic.

Oh and Alan Turing was posthumously pardoned...wait for 2013. How grand. Kinda close to the whole church accepting Copernicus' theory hundreds of years after it was proposed. Idiocy, all of it.

The world has changed some since those dark days (anyone who laments for the good old days is gaga in my book)

It has changed some, but not a whole lot.

I hope a day comes when people simply have to shake their heads and laugh in disbelief at the ways we have treated one another over the centuries and shudder gladly that such times are long past and will never come again.

I truly hope. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Piano high

I read somewhere that one must do one thing a day that scares you.

I'm afraid I took this advice to heart a couple years ago.

It had been a lifelong dream to learn the piano and so I started lessons with my at the time 7 year old son. Piano is perhaps one of the most difficult things I have ever taken on. And that's an understatement.

And my over forty year old hands are not thanking me for doing so. If I don't practice everyday, I lose skills like water draining from a pot with a hole. Granted the Suzuki method has some finger twisters but my performance (especially compared to my more nimble fingered son) isn't much to write home about.

But I long for the day I can jam effortlessly playing the odd jazz piece or just play my own thing. It's been two years and that goal seems as far away as another habitable planet in the universe. My hands move along the keyboard scrawny and splayed like vulture talons. And the sound I end up making isn't awful but a gifted student, I am not.

Between trying to remember (Suzuki relies on memorization) notes for the left hand and the ones for the right hand and  correct fingering, I usually forget the finer points such as dynamics (softening a place, making a note or chord sound louder), Then there are greater goals I am being encouraged to achieve--soften the left hand compared to the right hand (keep dreaming) or in a chord, emphasize the top note (my fingers laugh when my teacher says this to me).

And so I stumble along lesson after lesson. But I persist. Why?

Piano high. Like runner's high, after most lessons (unless I have done super badly in one), I leave full of sauce to practice and perfect something that week. The sauce runs out of steam by the end of the week and filled with anxiety I attend class. Seriously, I get nervous before every single lesson. Which is why I asked my teacher not to make me play in performances.

I mean, imagine the embarrassment. When I ascend the stage following some gifted five or nine year old, the audience will see me and expect some major movement or adagio. Instead I shall give them chopstick fingers. How appalling. And between feeling nervous and facing an unknown piano (this one really does it for me. I can somehow manage on our house piano but this is one instrument you cannot shlep along with you so heaven knows what you will have to play on. Which keys might be gummy, which loud, which soft. The tension would literally fry my brain.)

And so I stay away from that side of things.

It's not encouraging being the only oldie amongst a group of ranging from 4-17 year old students. Most of them Chinese and for some, the piano being a second instrument. Let's not even go there. I mean where is the time for these kids to practice, let alone get as good as they are?

Anyway, thanks to piano high I shall persist and who knows by the time my teacher is 102 and I am in my sixties, I shall have my debut piano concert! Don't laugh. I've heard of many a piano teacher live that long.

As for me, what can I say? I'm a late bloomer.