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July 2019



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Piano playing

Learning with YouTube

‘After all, everybody in Riseholme knew Lucia's old tune by now, and was in his secret consciousness quite aware that she did not play the second and third movements of the Moonlight Sonata, simply because they "went faster," however much she might cloak the omission by saying that they resembled eleven o'clock in the morning and 3 p.m.’

Like Lucia, I can only play the slow movement of the Moonlight Sonata. I’m currently obsessed with learning the slow movement of the Sonata Pathétique; obsessed enough to have had my first run through of the day at quarter past eight this morning. I’m struggling through it section by section, trying not to move on until I’ve mastered each one. So why YouTube? Of course you can listen to the great pianists but you do that for the interpretation, because they will always play all the right notes and in the right order. Plus, I could never play like Barenboim. Far more useful to me is to watch someone else learning, as in this video. Young Michael can play without music, which I can’t, and he also has ‘un prof’. It’s helpful because watching his fingers I can say to myself, ‘A-hah, there’s that fiddly bit of fingering it took me so long to get the hang of … So that’s how that bar goes! … I’m sure my music doesn’t have that twiddle in, perhaps I should buy a new copy instead of using my Grandma’s’ and so on. How I wish I'd kept up my piano lessons!

The truth is, it makes me happy to play, however badly. BTW, if you do look at the video, watch out for the vanishing ginger cat!


I'm just a little bit envious that you can play the piano. I know playing does make people feel happy. My friend Andrew plays very well and it helps with any depression he feels. Yvonne also plays (stage 7 I think). I saw the cat on the video, crept in on the right briefly then left again :)

Here is baby Barney playing...


I hope you can see it. LJ is not playing nicely this morning and won't embed the video.

Edited at 2015-12-14 12:24 pm (UTC)
I certainly think playing helps with my mental health. Yvonne is very advanced compared with me.
Barney: adorable! Is he going to learn to play?
LJ was unobtainable briefly this morning; I expect that's when you had the problem.

Such a pretty card from you this afternoon, thank you!
I think it is the plan to have both children playing but they are having problems fitting lessons in at the moment with both parents having such busy careers. I think Von does teach them a little herself. I hope they do learn.

I got your beautiful handmade card today. I love it, thank you :)
Hah, yes. Driving children around to their various extra lessons is time consuming.

So glad you liked the card.


Your timing is excellent. Last night I sat down at my piano for the first time in many months and mauled a few old songs. I've been dragging my baby grand around through several moves and often think of trying to sell it. But it's beautiful and I do like the fantasy of me practicing and getting back to being able to play better. Never well, you know, but better. There are several songs that, like Lucia, I only play the slow parts of or songs with no or few sharps or flats. I try to only play when I think no one is listening.

Re: Piano

That was a coincidence! Lucky you, to have a baby grand; I'd love one.

I should be practising a few carols but find them boring to play. I don't like people listening, either :-)

I notice you say 'songs'. Do you use the word interchangeably with tune, melody, piece etc.? It's just that I was looking at some of the comments on people's YouTube music videos and several said something like, 'I'm learning this song' when to me it wasn't a song at all. Just my curiosity about language.

Re: Piano

Yes, I could have been more specific. I do play a lot of 'songs', pieces with words, but I also play pieces without words. I wrangled a Chopin mazurka to the ground once, but it's been years since I played it. I'm guessing it was one with few sharps or flats.
Un po' di mu! I am a truly rubbish piano player and I also don't like anyone listening but I do enjoy it. Currently bashing my way through carol book and feeling festive. And thank you for the lovely card x
Heh, you sound like me. Playing can be so dwefful diffy.

Had a nice card from you, thank you!