I did it! By George, I did it. In other words, Mission Accomplished!
Friends, nearly two years ago I took up the piano once again with only one goal in mind:
To once again learn to play Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata,” as I’d played it back in the day, when I was still in high school.
I began taking piano lessons and frankly, even though I had taken lessons in my teens, I was, essentially, starting over. My teacher, Criseida, bless her soul, would encourage me and say I was picking it up quite nicely as if some of it was coming back to me. But I knew I was terrible. The worst. All thumbs! And don’t get me started on quarter notes versus half notes. I still can’t tell the difference!
Honestly there were times I thought of dropping out. I made a huge mistake, I kept telling myself. But Criseida kept giving me new homework assignments of musical selections that I’d have to learn. Yikes.
What saved me from quitting were the Sonatinas. How I loved learning those! Thankfully, I have a whole book of nothing but Sonatinas. My favorites include “Sonatina Op. 36, No. 1” by Muzio Clementi and “Sonatina Op. 39, No. 1” by Frank Lynes.
To die for! A pure delight on the ears. I kept wanting to play them faster and faster and Criseida kept insisting I slow down and play them as the composers intended. Sigh. No matter, for those Sonatinas kept me progressing in my lessons.
Yet with every new selection I’d learn to play, I kept thinking of the “Moonlight Sonata,” the classic standard that should be in every pianist’s repertoire. I’d look over the songbook, wondering if I was ready to learn it, and I’d ask Criseida for her opinion.
“No,” she’d gently say. “Not yet.”
Not by a long shot, I’m sure is what she wanted to say.
So I kept playing other, easier pieces, all the while thinking fondly of the “Moonlight Sonata.”
But then about two months ago, I asked Criseida again. Am I ready to start working on the “Moonlight Sonata?”
To my surprise, she nodded, though it occurred to me she was probably exhausted from my constant asking.
Well, it took me a month to conquer the first page—and, for the record, the First Movement of the “Moonlight Sonata” is a whopping SIX pages!
For weeks I’d play the first page and stop. Criseida would try to turn to the next page, but I’d panic. I simply wasn’t ready to move beyond the first page. After all, those other pages seemed impossible!
But Criseida persisted, telling me to just try the first measure on page two, and by the next lesson, I’d mastered the first and second measures of that page. Criseida was impressed!
Then one day, while Criseida was on vacation, I decided to power through the entire piece. Not caring whether it would take me all day, I was ready!
All this to say that, as of today, I can officially, play the entire six pages of the Moonlight Sonata!
Let me say that again: I can now comfortably read and perform the entire piece!! By George, I really did it.
And when Criseida returned from her vacation last week, boy, was she in for a surprise. She listened to me play the entire piece—with only a few mistakes, mind you. Well, maybe a dozen, but the point is, I played it! Somebody pinch me please!
Now, let’s see if I can do anything about tap dancing. My weekly lessons often seem futile. I follow along with the instructor as best I can, but as soon as the class is over, I can’t remember any of the dance steps to try to practice at home. And for some reason, the instructor refuses to come home with me and be at my beck and call for when I want to practice. Ugh.
So, piano—yes! Tap dancing, maybe next year. In the meantime, I’ll keep plowing away at both.