Getting Back into Piano

When I was young, I played piano.

For the longest time this was a forced activity. My parents wanted me to have some musical training as a child, so from the age of 7 that’s what I got. And hated it. They always justified it by saying that I’d thank them when I was older.

And you know what? Now I do.

When I got to high school, I came to enjoy it. I’ll always remember the day that Rob Brown and Brett Humber, having heard that I’d already spent years of my life practicing piano, approached me in 9th grade to ask if I’d be interested in getting together for a jam session. So began my career as a high-school rocker.

Fuelled by wild dreams of fame and fortune, we jammed constantly. We spent every lunch hour in the high school music room. We’d get together on evenings and weekends. Any opportunity we had to play, we’d take it.

Of course, I needed equipment if I was going to become famous. This was the argument that I used to convince my parents to buy me my first keyboard, anyway. Mind you, they were so delighted that I was finally taking an interest in music, that they were practically racing to the store to buy me a Yamaha PSR-6 the moment I mentioned it. It was a nice little unit, but hardly professional grade. That would have to wait another year, when I bought a Yamaha DX11, followed up a couple years later with the purchase of a Korg M1.

At the same time, I continued to study classical piano. I even achieved some level of recognized competence with it, receiving my Grade 8 certificate from the Royal Conservatory of Music. I continued to take lessons afterwards, but never worked towards any kind of certificate.

I gave after-school lessons to neighbourhood children, a nice little side business that provided some spending cash for whatever adolescent adventures in which I found myself engaging.

I gave up piano when I graduated from high school and left for university. The keyboards were simply too bulky to keep in my dorm room. Besides, in the course of my years of jamming, I had picked up guitar and was slowly considering myself to be a guitarist rather than a keyboard player. And a guitar could fit in a dorm room. So just like that, I gave up what until then had been an fundamental part of my life.

Now it has been years since I played anything. In the past decade, I’ve spent maybe 15 minutes at a keyboard, and all of these have been at the houses of friends and family. I sit down at their pianos just long enough to punch out a few chords and confirm that I’ve completely lost all my skills.

Somehow, I’m starting to feel the itch to play again. I don’t know what triggered it, but I find myself missing the feel of ivory beneath my fingers. I miss the challenge of learning that comes with playing an instrument. I miss the feeling of gradual, but steady improvement that I’ve only ever felt with music. Most of all, I miss the ability to express myself in music, the medium to which I’ve always felt most attuned.

Which brings me to the point of this post: I’ve decided that I’m going get back into playing piano. Though I no longer have dreams of becoming famous or wealthy by it, I’d like to get competent again, at least enough to play some music that moves and interests me.

As much as I can, I’m planning to keep a record of my journey back to the piano here. Stay tuned for more posts on the topic, the first of which will probably be about shopping for a piano.

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