Apologies to Allen Ginsburg, if they be necessary. I'm certainly not the writer he was but I think he'd be okay with the sentiment. It's a crazy time. This is what I'm doing to stay sane. I have not touched a piano in 20 years or more but I loved it and have missed it ever since my fabulous, big-as-a-house old Steinway upright collapsed and my tuner said it would take over three months to get parts — right when I was about to move from my house of 20-plus years — the story of my life at that time. Anyway, I remember how I'd get lost in scales, even. In front of the piano was my happy place. Time to go back.
I'm starting from scratch. I would expect my musician friends to fall apart laughing, except that I remember my old next-door neighbor, who I believe is now teaching in the music department at Occidental College. Every time this brilliant guy, who warmed up, warmed up, by playing the Bach cello sonatas, would see me, he'd say, "Practice. Don't worry that your piano is right next to my studio, that I practice and give lessons there. Practice every day. You'll be good." Bless you, Tim Emmons, and thank you.
So I'm back at it. Anything to get away from the New York Times. Not their fault, but still. This is my rescue kit.
I don't expect my current neighbors to be as kind as Tim, so I got an electric piano, a Bluthner Pro-88. I think it was so cheap, way less than I sold the Steinway for, not even accounting for inflation, because there is a newer model out, but so what. It sounds good. The touch is nice, even adjustable. It came with headphones, which I'm sure the neighbors will appreciate.
So those are the basics. My life is too unsettled to have regular live piano lessons so I'm going to hope I don't develop too many bad habits. At least for now I'm going to limp along on my own.
I found these great apps. There is one just called "Theory" and another called "Tenuto." They give you the basic idea of the whole undertaking: how to read notes and time signatures, the keys to the kingdom, basically. I do better with explanations, so I can lose an hour with those, easily. I read James Rhodes' autobiography, "Instrumental," so I had to get his little book, "How to Play the Piano." Supposedly I'll be playing a Bach prelude in six weeks, all this theory time included. We shall see but I do like the book. And finally, "Mikrosmos," the piano exercises that Bartok wrote for his son. I bought Volume I all those years ago, when I got bored with the stuff my teacher assigned. I loved it, so when I found this, all seven volumes bound together, I went for it. This is all much less expensive than when I sold everything back in the '90's. It's amazing.
So here it is, an hour or so every day when I can say "Donald Who?" It's a lovely thing and it leaves plenty of time to engage with the mess we find ourselves in. And prune the roses, load the dishwasher, you know, real life.