The first time I was accepted by a college music school was around 1972. I had lost a few years since high school. I attended Flint U of M for a few semesters but was pretty disenchanted with college. However, I got good grades. These classes later transferred and helped with my degree.
Driving back and forth between Flint and Columbus Ohio I noticed the grand old buildings of Ohio Wesleyan University which can be seen from the highway.
For some reason I got it into my head to study composition there. I moved my first wife and my son to Delaware Ohio where OWU is located and with the help of my parents bought a house and began studying piano with Richard Strasburg in order to make the entrance exam requirements.
I can remember my goal as a pianist and composer was to be able to play Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier, both volumes.
About two years later this study ended when I left my first wife and hitch hiked to Northern Michigan to play in rock and roll bands and meet the woman who became my second wife (thank God!).
Strasburg was a good teacher. I learned a ton from him but was never to study with a piano teacher again.
After quitting my Roman Catholic church job around 2001, I began to practice piano and organ with a renewed intensity. All this is to say 14 years later, I think I am improving as a pianist.
When I was younger so many people seemed to over estimate my abilities as a musician. Now that I am 63 I feel very few people see my abilities clearly at all. In fact living in Holland at this time I feel pretty invisible.
You know. The old don’t matter in our society.
And I’m getting old.
Nevertheless I know my pianistic skills are on a tremendous upswing. I ascribe a lot of this to my improving rehearsal techniques which seem to exponentially help me. The more I learn, the better I am. The better I am, the more easily I learn.
I bring this up because yesterday I returned to one of my favorite piano composers, Chopin. I never studied him with Strasburg. I love his music and have learned and performed a bit of it. My Dad used to play him on the piano and I still have some of his scores.
It has been a while since I have practiced Chopin. I’m not always 100 per cent sure how to execute some of his ambiguously notated notes.
But yesterday things went well. I have stumbled on practicing slow enough to get all of the notes but not so slow that I do not derive any musical pleasure from it.
I also read through Liszt’s transcription of the first movement of Beethoven’s Eroica. Again it went pretty well.
How bout that?