Friday, October 21, 2005

Piano and music: at the core of LeLo

You are Schroeder!

That's funny. I grew up playing piano. Lots, and lots of piano. If you ever asked me when I was a child, which Peanuts character I would identify with, it was Schroeder.

No, really. Lots of piano. Here's a picture from the elementary school production of either Peter Pan, Annie or Wizard of Oz. That's Mr. Guthrie in the background. He was an awesome and amazing teacher at Camarillo Heights Elementary School. He played his guitar and sang in class, and he had a parrot named Roots. I never had him as a teacher, but he directed all of the school plays. He had a beautiful voice, and was such a great teacher. I never acted in those elementary school plays (that came later in high school). I was the pianist. I know all of the words to every song. But I never sang them. Damn, I wish I could sing. I've thought about taking singing lessons. But I could play them on the piano as an accompanist. I could play them in the third grade. And not the simplified versions.

(Note the shag carpet in the background. This same piano is currently in my living room.)

Piano was "my thing" growing up. It defined me. Music was an integral part of me and my self identification.

I competed. I won competitions. Or at least placed in the Bach competitions (my least favorite). I hated technique. I didn't practice. I practiced like a fiend. But I won and kept playing in lots of contests.

"It" came naturally. Not by ear. From somewhere else. I could read anything. (I **almost** still can.) It was concentrated time with myself. With my inner self. It gave me something. Some sort of peace. Something personal. Something I was creating and feeling and in tune with, just me and the music. It was my art.

I could feel it.

Chopin? It moves me beyond words to this day.

My job in high school? I taught piano, and accompanied for a church. Yes, church, people. Covenant Evangelical. And I was baptised in that church at age 18. But that's another story....

I don't play much these days......I ventured beyond my comfort zone last month and played keyboard in a "jam session" with musicians who play by ear. It was really, really hard. And painful. Fortunately I had had a few drinks and they were all good people, and just went with it. I'm not sure where music is in my future. But I know it's a strong, emotive element for me, and I love me some iTunes. (Currently it's Ry Cooder, and Tegan and Sara.)

Thanks to Blu for the heads up on that fine quiz that sparked my trip down memory lane.


Anonymous said...

I'm so envious that you still have a piano! I'm so envious that you taught piano!

I bet you're awesome!

I'm sure that a jam session is very very very difficult! kudos to you for trying! I bet you were really really good :)

Ja'AmLo said...

Such an odd post to read. I played the same piano, and had Mr Guthrie as well. We both read music very well, but I agree that jamming with people who play by ear is next to impossible. I took a bit different route than LeLo, and since piano is a percussion intrument, I felt right at home playing drums and anything percussive. This opened a whole door of possibilities, and I played with several bands in college, while still getting a minor in music with piano as intrument of focus.
My style, just like Lelo's, is very personal. Because we read music, it pretty much makes it a solo experience. I used to love listening to her play Chopin, and still love his music. My composer of choice was Mozart and Grieg, but moved more into blues when I was around 11. That path stayed with me until college, where I returned to classical. Sadly, I haven't touched the keys now for 7 or 8 years. My wife has never heard me play, but I still tap on anything and everything to keep that beat flowin.

Rock on.

Anonymous said...

Hi, it's Mom
Your blog made me weep. I strongly beleived, and still do, that every child should excel in something. And you did, but not just in music, in speech, art and drama. I'm so proud of you. Love, Mom

Kathryn said...

Wow Lelo your mom is so sweet!

I want to hear about the baptism thing. . .
and if you want to teach piano again; I took lessons for a year and had to stop but now I teach myself . . . I'll hire you!!

LeLo said...

little sister,
I was NOT good during that jam session. It sounded very, very bad. Very. Trust me. But after telling people no no no no to jam with them for years, I finally tried it and it felt amazing.

ja'amlo and mom,
it's a family love-in! You guys are the best and i'm so touched by what you each wrote and shared.

Yes, my mom is sweet and this is first time she has delurked and posted. How cool is that?! I'll tell the baptism thing sometime...and if you're serious about wanting piano lessons, you're on.

Rozanne said...

Nice post. It's so cool that you still play. I haven't touched a musical instrument for about 10 years.

Anonymous said...

I also have a deep attachment to piano. What's funny is that just now I accidentally wrote it paino... There's so much emotional stuff - years of it - tied into my childhood and my relationship with my mother. And frankly some of it is still too uncomfortable for me to look at. But isn't it cool to be able to sit down at a piano and read music (I can't really play by ear, but can definitely read music)? It really is another language.

LeLo said...

Superinky, I think we should get together and play some duets. I have duet books, you know...

Anonymous said...

Geez, you could play LeAnn...and although I was up there singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow quite badly, all I wanted to do was be down there on that bench next to you turning pages. You never got crabby if I messed up and turned to early or late either.

Mr. Guthrie was the best, without a doubt...and they call the wind Mariah...

I just got sucked into your site for about 2 hours...and congratulations on the puppy.