Jumble of happiness

I am in a very happy state and those don’t usually last long, so I thought I’d better write it down, so I could read it later and maybe bring back some of the joy of the moment. 

Music has entered my life in a different way over the past two years and it is a major source of excitement and joy for me.  I’ve always loved listening to various types of music and it was very joyful to watch all three of my children be involved in various ways with learning to play instruments, including their voices.  I wanted to learn piano as a child, but never got the chance (mostly for monetary reasons.)  As an adult, we bought a used piano over 25 years ago that was supposed to be for me, but again, time and money for lessons became stumbling blocks.  My son learned to play informally with some help from a friend and that was great.  The piano is promised to him whenever he has a home with space for it.

Two years ago, a blog that I frequent challenged its readers to learn to play old time mountain music on the fiddle and I picked up a teaching book/CD combo and struggled my way into playing.  It has been tough but fun and I decided I needed a little help from a teacher, so I found one and began lessons last Sept.  I have improved, but doubt I’ll ever be “good.”  I will continue to play for the sheer fun of it.  I am not learning classical violin here, and the emphasis is on playing “by ear” though I certainly do know where the notes are on my fiddle.  I just don’t site read standard musical notation.

My (Julee's actually) fiddle

This violin actually belongs to my daughter, Julee, but she hasn’t played it in…15 years?….something like that.  I assume I get to keep it as long as I’m playing it and she isn’t. 🙂

For some reason, a couple of weeks ago, I decided there was no reason why I couldn’t learn to play the piano that still resides at my house.  My grandmother taught piano, and my mother always wanted her children to learn, but it just didn’t happen.  I figured music ability must be in my genetics, so here I am at age 60 learning another instrument!  I found a really good adult beginner lesson book and I’m practicing religiously and with gusto.  It isn’t easy at my age, but it is so enjoyable.

The story isn’t over:  I decided that for two reasons I really needed an electric keyboard.  No 1. is that we will be making at least four vacation trips of about one week at a time to our camper in the mountains over the next few months and I didn’t want to lose skills by not practicing.  I remember how much I lost in the early months of fiddling if I skipped even 4 days.  No. 2 is that sometime…who knows when, but SOMETIME…my son WILL take his piano and I need to have something to play! 

So we went and found a nice 61-key Yamaha.  It’s not fancy….I would have liked weighted keys (more of a real piano feel) but that would have been much more costly, and this one at least does have “touch sensitive” keys, which means that if I hit it harder, it does increase the volume.  I can’t imagine being serious about learning classical piano and not having the ability to control the dynamics of the piece.   I also did purchase a sustain pedal.

Of course, it also has other nice benefits, like “voices” (I can sound like a classical guitar, a string orchestra, a flute and several others), which certainly makes practicing the same piece repeatedly much less boring, and I did get earphones, too.  So I can practice at the same time as someone else is watching t.v. or whatever and not be intrusive.  That will be most welcome in the little camper!  The electric also has a metronome feature or you can have it add percussion or other rhythm backgrounds so you get the advantage of having something to keep your own rhythm on track without sounding like “Tic-toc-Tic-toc.”  All good.

After I show it off to some family members, I plan to pack it up for our first vacation trip of the season and go back to the “real” piano.  The electric piano is mostly just for travel as long as I have the real thing at home.  Since I don’t have weighted keys on the electric, I really need to learn on the real thing as much as possible.  It is harder to do, but I’ll always be able to play on an electric if I learn on the real thing first.  It won’t work the other way ’round.  It’s the same reason I learned to type (back when dinasours roamed) on a manual typewriter instead of an electric one.  I didn’t know if the places I worked would have an electric, and if not, I was going to be okay without it.  The same could not have been done in the reverse situation.

I had a great time at the local flea market today and netted a few wonderful (to me) things.  I got 4 paperback books for $2 to take on vacation, found a box full of sewing machine accessories for a very specific Singer machine ($3) and a large white cotton eyelet blouse (still with tags on) for $1 that will be great fabric for a special baby dress or for use in a baby quilt.  Jim found 4 blankets (one brand new!) for $8 that we can use as throw covers to cover the ugly gold/brown striped sofa and chair at the camper!  It was quite the find.

So I am full of excitement.  Spring is here; the weather is absolutely gorgeous today and full of the promise of months of flowers and birds and sunshine.  We are going to the camper on the 18th and will have a full week of relaxation, surrounded by rushing water and loving friends….and each other.  It’s a very good thing.  I can crochet, read, fiddle, play piano and just watch water roll by.  I am 60 and I’m only (hopefully) two years from retirement, and I am still learning new skills that give me great happiness.  My kids are all right (I think) and my job is secure.  It’s a very, very good day.

PS:  I like to think my mother and my grandmother are both watching me learn to play piano and seeing how happy I am.  OH!  And today I finished recovering those danged camper cushions!  Pictures to follow.

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