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Sunday, September 15, 2002

Off to Band Camp

OFF TO BAND CAMP

I never went to band camp as a kid, never played an instrument, never much cared. It never occurred to me that making music could be fun and within the range of my abilities. The idea that something could be rewarding was not a concept I readily grasped as a kid.

I started playing piano five years ago this month. I started from scratch. I was a tabula rasa. I’d say that I was an empty staff except I didn’t know what a staff was when I began. I didn’t know a half note from a treble clef. I didn’t know squat about music.

My complete ignorance of music was a shameful secret I carried with me through my life much like some people stumble through life with the horrible burden of being illiterate. The burden of my ignorance became heavier and harder to bear as I expanded my collection of classical music records.

Five years ago I decided to change my life for the better. I bought an inexpensive electric keyboard (I soon got a piano—keyboards suck!). I started to teach myself how to read music. Musical notation is an incredibly easy affair but without a teacher it was more difficult than it should have been. Now I could teach anyone how to read music in 30 minutes, guaranteed. I still have my first piano book, More Easy Classical Themes arranged by Alexander Cole. The first arrangement in the book is Bach’s choral piece Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring. I had to write on the page where C was on the staff. It has been all uphill since then.

I have decided that I will devote the next six weeks of my life to the piano. I will play every day for at least an hour. I will learn new pieces and relearn old ones that I have neglected. I am going to make the piano the biggest priority in my life.

I have practiced a lot on and off before but this will be my most heroic effort at raising my level of proficiency. Six weeks isn’t a very long time to alter the course of my life. I want to become a much better musician. I want to be able to some day master some of Bach’s fugues. Wish me luck.

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