Tuesday, October 19, 2010

5.30am for Beethoven...

A sonata with a view-Only in Raglan would a bunch of hippies somehow manage to get a piano up and impossibly steep hill, much to my delight.

 In a uni lifestyle of frantic all-nighters to finish assignments, a constant tirade of compulsory readings, the drudgery of a part-time job, and not to mention countless nights of drunken oblivion, I've neglected those 'extra-curricular activities' that I was once so fond of. 
School for me was a whirlwind of sports trainings, choir practices and a bare minimum of three different meetings which I was supposed to simultaneously attend during any given "break time". Weekends could involve anything from piano performances, to debating competitions, or band practices that would inevitably turn into road-trips to Kai Iwi beach.
 In the months leading up to chamber music competitions our bleary eyed and pajama clad trio could be found trudging our way through the 5.30am frosts to the music wing for 'essential' practices every morning (such were the joys of boarding school). Indeed, between my guitar in the 'shack out the back' and the piano stool, I came to virtually live in the music wing throughout my last year of high-school.

With the exception of the unfathomably early starts, and the sheer dread of turning up to a weekly music lesson to explain that having a life and sometimes sheer lack of ability had got in the way of me perfecting a Beethoven piano sonata yet again, I miss music incredibly. Taxing though they were, all those hours of repeating bars over and over again, with fingers on the verge of RSI, were utterly worth it for the satisfying feeling of a good performance, or simply even the beauty of the music (or at least as beautiful as I could make it).

To play the piano is a wonderful thing; in playing Beethoven, or Mozart, or Bach, or Brahms you are immersing yourself in a piece of history, music that has been performed on the grand pianos of famous concert halls, or on rickety out-of-tune keys in thousands of living rooms; yet every performance is unique- it is not simply an objective regurgitation of the composer's intentions but each note an expression of the player's own ability (or sometimes lack thereof on my behalf), experience, and interpretation.

At uni we are no longer presented with opportunities on a platter, we have to seek them out. While at boarding school we had teachers constantly hampering us to do our piano practice, and had an 'extra-curricular' arsenal of sports facilities and musical instruments on our very doorstep. It takes much more initiative to 'fulfill your potential' in the real world. Or maybe I'm just lazy these days. Either way, my mission for summer is to find a piano and get back in touch with my musical self.

Here are just some of the pieces that had me awake all those mornings...

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