Sunday, March 06, 2011

Productive Procrastination

I have moments where I don't want to do anything but nothing. These are the moments that I usually go to my computer in avoidance of some household chore and hope somebody posted something exciting on Facebook or that I might be lucky enough to have received a little red Facebook notification or two.  Then I check my email and hope for something exciting there.  Usually nothing is there, but my daily Groupon and Living Social deal. (Which reminds me that I have $20 I need to spend at Barnes and Noble by April 11th...)

Where am I going with this?

Well, one talent I've always wanted is the the ability to play the piano.  My mom played, my dad can play (he also plays the accordion), my brother played the saxophone in school, and my sister played the clarinet for awhile. My husband was a rock star before he quit to settle down and start a family. (So he tells me. His fame hadn't quite reached the West coast by the time I met him.)

Anyway, for some reason I slipped through the cracks and didn't receive any musical training.  (However, I did sing in choir as a second soprano my junior and senior year in high school and that was a lot of fun.) Instead, I took dance from ages four to eight and gymnastics from ages eight to eleven.  When I was eleven both my brother and sister were in college and I think my parents were probably secretly happy that I decided to quit gymnastics at that point because it freed up some money to pay tuition. In Junior High my best friend and I rode our ten speeds to the toy store and ice cream shop a lot. In high school I was a cheerleader. So I guess you could say that my talents growing up were shuffle steps, somersaults, cartwheels, ice cream eating, and herkie jumps. Oh, and let's not forget the Color Shout:

What about,
What about,
What about our color shout?
A blue, blue, blue, blue, blue, blue, blue.
Go Warriors! (kick leg)

So, I've decided to turn my procrastination into productive procrastination. Instead of procrastination at my computer, I sit at the piano and play. Some days I am totally addicted. My goal is to be able to play the piano in Relief Society at church someday. Someday, I want the pianist not to be there and the person in charge of music to ask, "Is there anybody that can play for us today?" Then I will anxiously raise my hand, go sit at the piano and open the hymn book to any hymn and play away. It's a wild fantasy of mine.

We bought our piano in 2003 when Emily was two years old.  We had this nice used upright piano that nobody knew how to play.  We only knew we wanted our children to know how to play. I decided to start teaching myself how to play the piano about six years ago.  I started with hymns.  I can probably play about...I don't 8 hymns or something.  But not at the level where I would want to play while people are singing. I've taken long breaks of not playing at all during the past five years. I'm not all that great at reading music.  I just struggle to read until I memorize a song.

My husband recently bought some intermediate books for the kids and me to learn to play. One is Bach and the other is Scott Joplin ragtime. I enjoy playing  Bach.  Joplin is kicking my butt, but I'm determined to learn. So I'm posting my first Bach minuet. I'm pretty proud of myself. It's my first non-hymn piece that goes beyond just playing chords (aside from Mary Had a Little Lamb and other nursery rhyming stuff.)

The other night after the kids went to bed I was trying to get a video of me playing what I've been practicing for 3 weeks, but I couldn't do it without messing up. I was getting very frustrated and discouraged. A couple of days later I tried again with my kids around and I finally got a good take. I guess I can only play when I'm in my element and my kids are banging on the keyboard while I'm playing. It's always nice to throw in a little extra challenge. I know it's not perfect, but I'm pretty excited my fingers do what I want them to do most of the time. For the sake of keeping the video short and a greater possibility of getting a take without mistakes, I left out the repeats:

Playing the piano makes me happy. I'm not so sure it makes my kids happy. Just play the above video about 25 times every day for three weeks straight and you will understand. The other night after the kids were in bed, I sat down at the piano before mopping the kitchen floor and there was a long piece of Scotch tape running along the top of 18 white keys. I think somebody might have been hoping for some peace and quiet while trying to fall asleep that night.


  1. You are one talented mother! I so enjoy your blog. Keep them coming...

  2. Wow! And you look so happy while playing, too. Well done and keep at it! Just let those kiddos learn to fall asleep to music. :)

  3. I'm also super impressed that you memorized the music!

  4. You have inspired me to start playing the piano again. I taught myself when I was a teenager and then I fell out of playing it. I am not good by any means, but I, too, have the same goal as you; to be able to play the piano in church should there be a day when the other 25 people who know how to play the piano are absent (for whatever reason). Thanks for this, and good job!! :)

  5. Our branch has 1 pianist, and he's 15! We could use your talent...please?!?