A song that you can play on an instrument

Friday, February 25, 2011

I was a very diligent but unhappy piano player until I was 14 years old.  I practiced for at least 45 minutes every day for most of this time, and it took a lot to get me to stay seated on that piano bench.  I feel bad for my father, who was the one who oversaw my piano-playing.  For the first 3 or 4 weeks of summer vacation following the eighth grade, I spent what I remember as 6 hours a day practicing the piano, in preparation for some prestigious piano exam/competition.  I hated every moment of it and probably did a good deal of crying.

I remember showing up at the testing center, which I believe was in the environs of Carnegie Hall, in this high-ceilinged, extremely Baroque room with curtained floor-to-ceiling windows and two grand pianos haphazardly placed in the center of the room.  My test "proctor" (a trained pianist, of course) sat on one grand piano while I sat at the other.  She quizzed me about my age, what I was going to play for her ...

Turns out I was a year or two too young to be entered in the competition, but she let me go on anyway.  I played 5 or 6 pieces for her, the pieces averaging 6-7 minutes each (one over 10 minutes ... oh, the horror!).  When I finished, I knew I hadn't done as well as I would've liked, but she gave me marks above 100% because of my age.

After I walked out of the room, I was probably the most relieved I'd ever been ... and some days later, my father and I decided I would quit piano.  Apparently I'd been pretty good, but it was never fun for me.  We struck a deal, that I would continue playing for 30 minutes several times a week to keep it up, and I would be able to select the music I would play.  At the time, I ordered sheet music for the Backstreet Boys' first U.S. album.  It was very basic to me, but I wanted to enjoy what I was playing.

The first song I really learned from this book was "I'll Never Break Your Heart":



Even with the help of the Backstreet Boys, I could not sustain much interest in the piano after so many long years of being forced to play it and I eventually stopped altogether.

I recently bought myself a Casio keyboard in an attempt to give songwriting a try, and along with it, a Taylor Swift songbook to see if I could break down how she wrote her music.  The song I enjoy playing the most from this book is "Cold As You", one of my favorites off of her first album:



Piano-playing is still not something I do regularly, but I hope as I get older, I'll gravitate towards it more and more.

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