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"YA JUST GOTTA LAUGH" - MAINLY AT YOURSELF IF YOU'RE A PIANO STUDENT!

Updated: Jan 22


"Everyone has a belief system ("B.S.");

the trick is to learn not to take anyone's B.S. too seriously,

especially your own." - Robert Anton Wilson, novelist (18 Jan 1932-2007);

courtesy of A.Word.a.Day, so gratefully called to my attention

and gifted to me by Bruce Nalezny.


If you're an amateur piano student like I am, I'll bet my bottom dollar that this kooky, zingy, spot-on piano lesson video by Daniel Thrasher will make you laugh (before it devolves into a full-on loud commercial for his videos)! You'll likely be smiling, at least when the nervous student asks his teacher to step around the corner and make noise like a siren while he sight reads a Beethoven piece (rotflmao!).


I can relate! I was once asked (seriously, as a matter of teacher torture) to sight-read a Bach piece (having never played Bach at all), and I could have used that siren for sure...or some kind of humor.


Thank goodness I write a good bit of humorous as well as earnest poetry, and in that humorous style, usually have a theme of poking fun at myself first of all!


I appreciate H.L. Mencken's ability to effectively skewer composers and pretend music-lovers. Chopin was "a sugar-teat" and to sum him up, think of "two embalmers at work upon a minor poet...the scent of tuberoses...Autumn rain." But Mencken's skill level is way beyond anything I could hope for as a writer of blog essays, a fictional story or two, and poetry. So I stick to skewering myself.


About a year ago when I was seeking a new piano teacher, I guffawed when in a trial lesson, Robert Brownstein (who teaches at the Blue Bear School of Music in San Francisco), called a small piano piece I demonstrated, my "Hey-Dude!" (Below is a recording of a "Hey Dude-ess" - Etude in F Major by French composer Louise Farrenc in which I'm only about quarter-inch from getting right.)


I laughed at Robert and knew we were kindred spirits at some level. And I promised him I would get around to this blog topic one day. So Robert -- this blog, this etude proudly at 95 BPM, and this piano dress picture (notice the piano's pedals at the hem!), are for you!









The young YouTube Music-trasher Jedi Warrior Thrasher is a master at skewering as many musical elements as he possible can. Much of my early poetry concerned my sincere woes and failures in -- and near-fatal-depressions-about -- learning music theory and how to play my piano. It's only too bad I didn't then know about "The Jedi."


Today after piano practice, if I feel a downward slide coming about, I just review the first of The Jedi's above video and I lighten up and get on with it! Or if I'm practicing, I cast an eye toward my coffee mug pictured above, and that seems to work.


If I have a bit of time to calm myself before practicing, or especially before a sharing with my teacher or friends, I'll re-read my short story, "Ceci's Conundrums." It's a wacked out, insane parody of my own trembling nerves and taking myself far too seriously for my own good. Lucky thing is, I can thereby make myself laugh and settle down.


If you only do one thing to satiate your funny bone today, then please watch this video of Danny Kaye conducting the National Orchestra in 1962! In a longer 1982 performance with the New York Philhamonic, mid way he makes fun of an utterly hilarious "aging conductor" -- which is not really appropriate today, nor is his interaction with the woman in the audience; Kaye was a man of his times to be sure -- but for better or worse,I laughed in spite of myself. (He was really a very good conductor, by all accounts!) It includes the satirizing of all stereotypes and styles of conductors. If that's a step too far for you, try viewing his video of a fabulous rhyming patter song featuring the names of multiple well-known composers.


I sincerely recommend however, that you go straight to 1.36.59 of the 1982 New York video and listen to the most heartfelt support by Kaye for musicians and music that I have ever heard. It is a message that should be required viewing in every school and college today.


Let's hear it for "abnormal" and "insanity!" I lived such a "grown up," staid, and rigidly-prescribed young adulthood, and for 16 years pursued the most rigid of professions in lawyering (save for the intentional theatrics of trial law), that insanity and sliding off the rails seems to me a virtue to be welcomed and pursued, not a vice.


After all, MLK whose birthday we just celebrated on January 15, said that human achievements "have always been (achieved by) nonconformists." What he said!


((I'd surely say the fashion designer of this lavender gown was one of those!)

***

ANDANTE OR LENTO

(this and the next poem are from Vol. II "Poetical Musings")

 

I like andante. I relate.

Life at my stage moves with all deliberate speed as appropriate to my age.

All so good! I would continue,

noting how fast the days of allegro go

(not to mention vivacissimo),

My first movement, now past. Nothing lasts.

The lesson of tempo just about learned,

more than an inkling staring me in the face

(for any pace from grave to presto),

what matters now is what I always said

when embarking on dreams that I had:

 

If lento...at least, I’m “Go!”


MURDER ON THE METRONOME EXPRESS

 

The only thing that surely keeps me moored

and not adrift at sea–

or murdering my German metronome?

It’s the beauty of his gorgeous teak wood!

 

So elegant in shape, a proud mini-pyramid,

he stands by the side of my Duchess so dear.

But when I hear the inexorable tick-tock,

my senses they go into terminal shock.

 

My hands start to quiver, my stomach does churn,

I’m sure this tempo lesson will never be learned!

I set it as instructed on the quarter or eighth note,

and it starts off so well ’til I go for broke,

 

Then all hell cuts loose, and the rhythm does, too;

the phrase that was sound

is followed by one to eschew.

It gets lost in mish-mash that I don’t recognize;

to play with the General,* I completely agonize!

 

He reminds me of another, goose-stepping on high,

with one-two-three clicks–I think I will cry!

I hate marching orders and I’ve always rebelled.

What horrible fate on me just befell!

 

My teacher cajoles, exhorts, and then raises promises

and asks if I want piano praises

for possibly playing perfectly,

just like a pro?


But what I really want, is just to bed go!

_______

*Nickname I gave my metronome shortly after sighing,

then eventually agreeing to use it regularly in practice.

###


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