Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A random neuron fired

The neuron fired and an idea flashed into my head.  Is it a good idea?  Hard to say.  I’ll need to try it out for a while and see how it goes.
Life list:
  • Write a book that can, at least in principle, be purchased at Barnes and Noble.
  • Learn to play the piano well enough to do a credible job on the Chopin Nocturnes.

  • Time, of course.  Ho hum.
  • I don't know what I want to write about.
  • Well established internal demons:
    • The demon of impatience, aptly named Impatience.
    • The internal critics, named Agnes and Agatha because everything has to be an “A.” They always appear together so they can gang up on me.  If I could separate them, they’d be manageable, but they seem to be joined at the hip.
    • The demon of procrastination named Penelope.  She hasn’t said much yet.
    • The demon of indecision named Cami, short for Chameleon, because they can change color whenever they want.
    • The demon of distraction named Yachi, a Japanese name that means eight thousand, which is how many things I want to do at once.

So, here is the idea:

What if I document my attempts to learn to play the piano in a way that also helps me learn to write in all sorts of styles?    I could employ various genres, styles, writing exercises, etc. to simultaneously explore the art of writing, hopefully improve my skills, and at the same time, provide structure for learning to play the piano.  Some likely formats include timed writings, dialogs, monologs, poems, news articles, short short stories, magazine sidebars, etc.

I think I'll try it.

Not much time before I need to get ready for work, so the first entry will be a timed 10 minute writing.  The rules—write for 10 minutes, with NO EDITS.  (sorry in advance )


Set   (7:17 am)


Found the piano book last night. Bastien’s “Adult Beginner level two.”  I don’t think I have the level one book, and it is probably TOO basic anyway.  First song, “Down in the Valley”.  Key is C major. C major is good, no sharps, no flats.  Let’s see, block chords on page one, arrpegiated on page two. 

Looks ok.

I started by practicing the chords- I, IV and V7.  I remember this from the last time I tried to learn to play the piano.  That must have been about 10 years ago now, maybe longer.  Ok.  So far so good.  Let’s take a look at that melody line.  Not too bad, but I need to pay attention to fingerings.   Fingerings aren’t at all intuitive to me on piano.  I remember when the kids took lessons from Judy.   She used to correct messed up fingerings with the admonition:  “Let’s not play finger twister.”  Seems like finger twister is my favorite game on the piano.

Oh well.  Let’s try the hands together.

Slowly.  Very slowly.

“Down in the valley….”

Not too bad for a first try.  I am concentrating on the chords and they are very loud relative to the melody line.  Ok.  Try to play the bass line softer.

Hmm.   I managed to play the bass line softer, but the melody line got quieter too.  That is not what I wanted.

Let’s try playing hands separate.  Bass line first, softly.  Ok. Not bad.

Melody line, ridiculously loud.  Ok. 

Together… now:

Egads!  I am not sure if the balance is better, but now that I am concentrating on the dynamics,  I am playing lots and lots of wrong notes.


Ok. Agatha and Agnes, you can go back upstairs now.  I’ll call you later.

Let’s try again.  Slowly.  This is a very easy piece; I think I can do it.  Maybe if I stop thinking in terms of details and just try to think of making it sound good.

“Down in the valley….”

Ok. Better. 

7:27 and I am done for this entry. I really want to edit it, but the point is to let it go. So, I am letting it go.


  1. Great concept! different voices, times, places, it has much potential.(but have you practiced piano yet?) Thanks for sharing

  2. Awesome plan, Deb. This was great. Sorry I took so long to comment ... I've been a bit preoccupied! Next time, you need to embed an MP3 file (or whatever the technology is - ask Eric) in your post so we can hear. Super cool!