I’ve been teaching myself to play Chopin’s Nocturne No.20 in C# Minor for the past few weeks and I’ve just about mastered the first section which corresponds to the first page of the Schirmer edition of preludes, nocturnes and waltzes. I had piano lessons from the ages of 10 to 17, but I never really learnt how to practice properly. I always thought that music practice for both violin and piano involved playing through my pieces, studies and scales for an hour or so, start to finish. I rarely pulled my pieces apart bar by bar, didn’t really warm up before practising, and gave up each practice session as soon as I got frustrated. Learning how to practice piano – and violin – properly as an adult has been an interesting experience.
As part of my efforts to teach myself Polish, I am currently focusing on vocabulary, and I thought it’d be fun to keep a list of my favourite words as I learn them. I love the sound of Polish, and the following words especially.
I am quite new to YouTube. I prefer Vimeo as a platform as the video quality is better, and there are some features that Vimeo offers that I really like as a filmmaker. In order to get with the times though, I’ve tried to embrace YouTube. I know it’s where people go when they’re looking for videos online, and almost everyone has a Google account so it’s easy for viewers to interact with videos there too.
After a few years of living a fairly sedentary lifestyle, last winter I added ‘go for a daily walk or cycle’ to my habit tracker. I go swimming and visit the gym fairly regularly, at least a couple of times a week, but as I work from home there were sometimes days, or even strings of days, where I didn’t leave the flat other than to walk the 500m round trip to the local supermarket.
I am three weeks in to my latest attempt at teaching myself Polish. I first tried to learn Polish ten years ago while studying for my PhD. My research was based out in northern Poland in and around the city of Gdańsk, and so I put myself on a sort of crash course to learn the very basics so that I could get about the city, order a cup of tea, buy a ticket on the metro, that sort of thing. I worked with translators from the University of Gdańsk for my interviews, but I had to manually translate documents and newspaper articles myself which meant that the progress I made was in a very small, technical area of the language. I knew the words for ‘nuclear power’, ‘electricity’, ‘local government’, ‘international’, ‘solidarity’, but I couldn’t hold a simple conversation with the hostel owner’s six year old daughter.