How The Ivories Tickle Imagination

May 22, 2018

I recently started taking piano lessons – again. The first time, I was around 10 years old.

We didn’t have a piano so I practiced on my cardboard keyboard. I guess my parents thought that demonstrated commitment, so eventually they surprised me with a big, old converted player piano. When puberty set in, I became less motivated and started fibbing in my practice log.

Although I’ve only been at it for a month, I’m keen – largely due to my teacher, who has me studying theory and practicing finger dexterity exercises along with performing songs. He knows that eventually I’d like to play blues and jazz, and ties that into my lessons as he shores up my basic music foundation.

Jazz, my teacher tells me, has more chords and rhythms with harmonies that wander in and out of the blues pattern. Some of my favorite artists like Taj Mahal and Dr. John serve them both up in the same song.

Delving back into music lessons is like learning a new language, especially when I study the theory. I can feel my brain whirring as it tries to grasp the new syntax. From a novice’s point of view, I see an alphabet of notes, scales and chords; sentences made up of phrases; and punctuation marked by staccato and rest symbols.

Starting to learn and play a bit of music definitely fuels my appreciation of real musicians who so fluently draw us under their spell no matter how well we know the language.

I’m Paula Garrett, and that’s my perspective.