I play violin as my primary instrument and have for most of my life. But my step-mom has this idea that everyone should play at least 2 instruments, and one should be piano. I don’t disagree with her, and I grew up with enough privilege to be able to take violin lessons from 4th grade through about 10th grade when we moved, and also to take about 2 years of piano lessons.
An interesting aside - violin music consists of 1 line of music at a time. You just follow one line from left to right, then go to the next line. It’s just like reading a book in English. Proceed from left to right, go down a line, continue from left to right.
Piano, on the other hand, is reading 2 lines of music at a time. (And if you’re accompanying someone, I imagine the pianist is likely reading 3 lines of music at a time!) So you’re not simply reading from left to right - you’re reading up to down for every single chord. It could be 3 notes with your right hand and 2 notes or 3 notes with your left hand. That’s just “one note / one chord.” Then you read the next one. It’s all reading from top to bottom and then proceeding to the next chord on the right. I never could master reading all those notes. I now know it’s because of my tunneling, and I’m working on it.
My vision therapist told me I needed to widen my range of vision and she worked on it with various exercises. I really need to blog about the baseballs and the pencil exercise (one is pencil pushups, the other is writing lines with both of my hands at the same time).
Anyway, so I would master each hand alone, so I could mostly play the music more from muscle memory, then just sort of play both together. It took hours and hours of practicing. Like I said, I had been a musician for so much of my life, and after about 18 months of learning piano with a private teacher, I was able to play George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, so I wasn’t too shabby. I love that song.
The first time I sat down to play it, my dad heard me trying to swipe my right hand across all the keys over and over and over. He was making pancakes in the kitchen. He suddenly came out of the kitchen, saying, “is that Rhapsody in Blue??” He was so excited and I was bewildered that he knew this random piece of music. My dad knew all kinds of music just from a few notes. He was awesome like that. (I miss him every day.)
Well, I have to tell you about that Rhapsody in Blue sheet music. My piano teacher would go through when I made mistakes, and circle things with her blue BIC brand pen. If I still made the same mistake the next week, she would circle it, again, in red pen. Blue happens to be one of my favorite colors and I was happy about it. But it got to the point that I ignored all the red pen circles. I wasn’t sure why, but I realized I never saw them, for whatever reason.
That music got so marked up so quickly, with her pen, that one week she replaced it with new music. No pen marks. And began again with new circles. I had worn out the first copy by turning pages, and she had worn it out with pen marks. 😂
I realized over the years that I really never saw the color red. Like a teacher writing with red pen. I figured it must have to do with the piano teacher writing in red pen. My teacher was very nice by the way, and I never resented her for doing that. It wasn’t like I was being rebellious. I just never saw the red pen and couldn’t articulate that.
Recently, I was looking at a picture from a game I like to play from Nintendo, “Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp.” It’s a fun game. I enjoy it. Every season or so, they do a new opening screen for folks to “find the differences.” It’s a fun mini game while you wait for your game to load.
It takes me weeks and weeks to do these puzzles. It’s something I enjoy, and sometimes I get so frustrated after like 3 months of not being able to spot the 5 differences, that I will screen shot it just so I can have more time to spot the differences.
One time, I showed it to my son and asked him to help me find the differences. In that case, the sky was 2 different colors. That drove me bonkers. 😂. Another time, he found the beams on a building were different or something. This current one was driving me crazy, and I asked a friend to help me. My friend spotted one thing that is probably obvious to most everyone who is reading this blog. It was one thing I didn’t see. I wonder if I would have ever seen it?
Here is the graphic from Nintendo’s “Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp” (it’s a game you can play on your phone or tablet).