Everybody should do — in their lifetime, sometime — two things. One, is to consider death: to observe skulls and skeletons, and to wonder what it will be like to go to sleep and never wake up. Never. That is a very gloomy thing for contemplation, but it's like manure. Just as manure fertilizes the plants and so on, so the contemplation of death, and the acceptance of death, is very highly generative of creative life. You get wonderful things out of that. And the other thing to contemplate is to follow the possibility of the idea that you are totally selfish. That you don't have a good thing to be said for you at all. You're a complete, utter rascal.

/Alan Watts, The Nature of Selfishness/


Playing the piano for (almost) 6 months - review /14.04.2018/

It’s been almost half a year. A good opportunity to look back and see what I’ve learnt so far.

1. Discontinuing piano lessons as a kid was one of the biggest mistakes of my life. 

Sure, I can blame it on my parents (why didn’t they freaking made me do it?), my teacher who was a local organist not exactly skilled at dealing with unmotivated students or even the badly tuned piano back home. But let’s be adults and take some responsibility for our actions. I wish I had realised how much fun playing would have been. But I didn’t. Hands up. 

2. Mistakes can be corrected. 

The more time I spend playing, reading about music, guessing notes on my gamified app, deliberately going over and over the most tricky parts of a piece, letting scales drive me nuts, the sooner I make up the lost years. With learning, there is no speed limit. 

3. If I don’t practice daily, I’m not serious about it. 

The power of habit is enormous. Muscle memory cannot be fooled. These days, I get up at 5:30am, meditate, have tea and play for one turn of the hour glass which sits on my piano (30 minutes) before leaving for work. Why the hour glass? Because it’s beautiful and, unlike any timer on my phone, cannot be easily ignored. A simple trick to deal with procrastination. 

4. Nothing beats having a great teacher.

I’ve had four weekly lessons so far. Every single one was like a mental shift. My teacher is one of these people whose goal is to make you fall head over heels with music. Relentlessly patient, funny and focused on his students’ ambitions. Motivation is easy.

5. Choosing what to play is important.

If I like a piece, I’m always enthusiastic about killing it ad nauseam. With a metronome, as a variation on the original, changing its rhythm etc. The plan is to take Piano Grade 1 examinations at some not-so-distant point in the future and boy, do I hope their choice of music is at least vaguely aligned with mine.

6. Recording myself helps me track my progress. 

And swearing after a badly played piece is magic. So here we go: some swearing and a slight variation on Hans Zimmer’s Interstellar music above. I can hear a dozen of slips, see that my wrists are too low but hey, here’s to beginner’s mind!