Monday, May 25, 2009

Everyone Needs a Little "Solitude"

First, you need to know that I'm a pianist. Have a degree in music and everything. Make my living teaching other people how to make that big black box in their living room do something besides collect dust and store Hummel figurines.

And I enjoy it, I really do.

But this also means that I hear a LOT of piano music, all week long. And it may surprise you to learn that, once those hours of "that should have been C. C. CCCCCCCC. In the name of all that is sacred and holy will you PLEASE put your thumb on that key right THERE and push it down until some sort of noise comes out of the instrument??" are over, I'm not usually up for a whole lot more piano music than that. It's an ironic bi-product of my profession.

And then there are my kids. My two daughters are almost exclusively self-taught pianists. It's not because I haven't tried to teach them, it's because such an endeavor usually meets with the same success and personal fulfillment as a self-prescribed colonoscopy. So they play on their own, each in a unique, lengthy and LOUD way.

Corinne isn't happy with any practice session that goes shorter than a week. She'll play through an entire book just to get warmed up, and then play her current songs so many times she wears grooves into the keys.

Vanessa, on the other hand, sees "Forte" as a good jumping off spot and treats every performance like one big crescendo until the lamp hanging over the piano is swaying and we're looking for our fillings. Put up the lid, and the paint starts bubbling off the walls.

Their playing is great. It's just not particularly restful.

As you might imagine, then, it takes a lot for me to be able settle back, relax, and actually enjoy listening to solo piano. Which is why last evening turned out to be such a pleasant surprise.

Sherrie Shepherd sent me her beautiful new CD "Solitude", and requested that I listen to it and review it on my blog. Re-read the last couple of paragraphs to get an idea of the trepidation I felt when she asked for my opinion.

That was before I heard it. I put it in my player last night before bed, and listened while I read and unwound from my day. After about ten minutes my husband wandered in, and without telling him anything about the music, I asked him what he thought about it.

He said, "It's really nice. Perfect for keeping a little peace in your home on a Sunday afternoon. Where did you get it?"

I told him that it was my friend Sherrie, and he was very impressed. Not just with her, but with the fact that once again I have managed to attract a pal who is so super talented. I have always been incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by smart, talented people, and here my record remains unblemished.

My husband is right. This is a beautiful, serene collection of piano solos, ideal for bringing the intensity of your house down to manageable, reflective levels. Turn off the TV, light a couple of candles, and put on "Solitude".

It's a lovely way to end the day.


Kristina P. said...

It really is a beautiful, relaxing CD. Sherrie is extremely talented!

AS Amber said...

I listened to the music on her blog the other night while I was doing some other blogging and it was so nice!

I'm still kicking myself for not going to her concert last week. Harley was sick, but still...

Karen said...

Sounds like just what I need!

Stacy S said...

OK, I haven't listened to the CD, but your narrative about piano teaching made me laugh out loud. I had a morning much like that this morning with a teenaged violin student, trying to convince her that an "a" on the page of music did, indeed, mean that she should put her bow on the "a" sring and play the note. I laughed even more because we have a digital piano, and my younger daughter isn't happy playing it until the volume is turned up loud enough for all of my small town to hear it. Must invest in headphones. Or sedatives. Or both.

Mallory said...

Oh, this brings out my totally unrighteous jealousy! I wish I could play the piano. Hmmm...maybe what I mean to say is that I wish I had enough self control to actually practice (and maybe owning a piano would help, too). I took 4 years of piano lessons as a youth. I can read music. I know the what keys are which notes. But it takes me months to get down a single song. And it definitely takes longer if you throw in a couple flats/sharps...or just one. My one redeeming musical quality is that I can sing. (Really well, if I don't say so myself).

wendy said...

HEY - I just had lunch today with your kick ass sister Amber. LOVE HER. she is so fun. just passing that fyi along
also, I gave me piano away to my oldest son as he really wanted it to start giving his kids piano lessons-----I really MISS my piano

The Garden of Egan said...

Wow, I know someone who knows someone famous! Ah, to live in the Mormon Corridor! I'll have to go purchase the CD upon your recommendation because I LOVE piano music. I have a piano and I wish I knew how to play it. I have one cause I'm Mormon and we are supposed to have one, right? Well, somehow I haven't mastered the ability to play it.
Your writing is so dang funny.

MommyJ said...

Sounds lovely. :) I will definitely check it out.

Okay so I can play a little bit. You need me to play in church? Fine. Just give me a week's notice. Unless you're good with Come Follow Me, Nearer my God to Thee, and Sweet Hour of Prayer. I got the short end of the music stick at my house, but I'm good with it. I have siblings that are immensely talented. Sometimes we all sing together, which I love cause it makes me seem like I am so much better than I actually am!!

And I love listening to william joseph play piano. Ever heard of him? He's awesome, and so fun to watch. He is a master at "rocking out" the piano.

Shawn said...

Thanks for your heads-up! I will have to check it out.

Lesia said...

Hey, DeNae, it's Ms. Grumpybutt, here! Take a stroll to my blog. I have something to say...No, it is in no way a call to the principal's office. BTW, I look forward to hearing this CD. Thanks for the heads up! I could use a little "Solitude".

Sher said...

Thank you so much! And you nailed it on the head about teaching piano (been there, done that). But, honestly, sometimes, I miss it. Sometimes not.
Thanks for building me up!
Love you!!!

zannyzoozoo said...

I can totally relate!!! We need to introduce your Vanessa to my foreign exhcange student because he also only plays at a triple forte. I think he believes the louder he plays the better it sounds.

He is headed back to Norway now so my husband and I were looking forward to a break from the Coldplay song he played (banged out) 24/7 on our piano(usually when my toddlers were napping) so Sunday morning when my 12 year old son sat down at the piano and started playing THAT song ... well let's just say my children had to coax me down from the chandelier ... and my husband was curled up in fetal position on the floor of the closet!!!

I'm totally going to check out this CD. I need some calming piano music in my home before I resort to taking an ax to ours. Thx!

InkMom said...

After all the piano competitions, recitals, and forced concerts, I have completely boycotted piano music as a listener . . . I still really only like it if I'm the one making it. I know, I'm so selfless, right?

Until now, maybe. I just might give it a shot.

(Funny that I don't feel that way about the viola, isn't it? Interesting. I'll have to figure out why.)

The Crash Test Dummy said...

Awesome!! I loved this review! Very credible.


Not to be rude, but I kind of wish I had your problem. Our piano is now in our garage. Is that sacreligious?

We live in a townhouse for goodness sakes!