I’m getting my piano tuned tomorrow, but when I look back on this year in the future the soundtrack will be a mixture of Spanish Love Songs’ album ‘Brave Faces Everyone’ and Chopin nocturnes and preludes played on a piano which is overdue a tuning because of physical distancing and lockdown restrictions.
I wanted to capture the sound of 2020 in this very much imperfect recording because sound and memory go hand in hand for me. It took me five attempts before I managed to play without any wonky notes as I always get nervous when I’m playing to an audience, even if that audience is just my camera and cat.
It’s been a little while since we last recorded covers, but since we have all the time in the world at the moment I think we’ll be catching up with all the new songs we’ve learned over the winter months.
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.
On Sunday afternoon I said a very emotional farewell to the digital piano I have had for twenty-three years. In my pyjamas with a cup of tea next to me I pulled my grandfather’s crumbling score for Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier down from the shelves above the piano and played goodbye to my Roland with Prelude in C Major. It’s such a simple piece, but it’s one of my favourites. When I had finished, I closed the lid for the final time and began to disassemble the piano ready for the family who were coming to collect it from me later the same day.