musing on age and skill

I find that I am experiencing some surprising pluses about getting older.

It seems that along with the usual silly memory lapses (“you know, the guy with the thing in the place….”), my ability to think and read clearly has improved. I find that prose and poetry is much more accessible to my understanding and even retention to some extent.

Some of this is I know that as I have gotten older I have intentionally slowed down my reading to better comprehend the ideas.

This helps.

It seems there is a corollary in my musical abilities.

When I was a young hapless kid studying composition at Ohio Wesleyan in Delaware, Ohio, I remember thinking (even saying to others) that all the piano technique I really wanted was to be able to play Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier.

I now have that technique and more.

I also have the understanding that my performance ability is mostly limited by my willingness to spend hours with certain pieces. This is a return to the approach all music students use in college: limiting the pieces you work on to a few and then learning them in depth over months and months before you perform them.

Over the years I have developed a pretty fair skill of sight reading music. I have heard people say of musicians that they can play anything you put in front of them. This may be true but it seems pretty unlikely to me because of the wide range of styles and specialized difficulties.

Unlocking a complex notation is different from getting the over all idea of medium hard music.

But maybe that’s just me. I don’t pretend to myself to be a virtuoso of musical skill. More I see myself as a lover of music.

Speaking of loving music, I have recently fallen in love all over again with Bach’s 4th English Suite, especially the prelude. I like this recording of the Prelude because the harpsichordist takes it a bit slower than your typical pianist. The slower tempo actually sounds more rhythmical to me. This recording also includes the lovely Allemande as well.

And finally speaking of rhythm, I have noticed an evolving change in my playing for Ballet classes. First, I consciously play a little differently for each teacher. For one I feel very free to play a wide range of improvisations in style (also I feel like she understands the delicate playing whereas other teachers sometimes perceive my delicate playing as tentative). For another I feel that she likes a more bombastic emphatic improv and adjust according. And so on.

Secondly, I am playing much more rhythmically, subdividing and exploring rhythm  within the context of a clearly delineated 8 measure phrase. This is kind of fun, but I have found that my tangos could use a reinfusion of original thinking about them, so this morning I returned to my stack of notated tangos and revisited the musical ideas in them. I tucked a couple away to take with me and use verbatim.


Tourists Still Drawn to Tomb of Mussolini, ‘Il Duce,’ in Italy –

Sheesh. Dictators become beloved. What a bizarre thing.


Noted Dutch Psychologist, Stapel, Accused of Research Fraud –

Lies, damn lies and research.


Georgia Men Held in Plot to Attack Government –

Still not clear exactly what these men were doing. Possibly it will come out in a subsequent trial. If the perps live long enough.


Meeting With Chinese, Official Tests Limits Set by Congress –

This looks like more unwarranted strengthening of the executive powers of the presidency…. hard to tell.


Bill Moyers: “Our Politicians Are Money Launderers in the Trafficking of Power and Policy” | Truthout

Moyers makes good sense to me.


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