Life According to Piano
Something about working on Drivin!, which has many very up-tempo and even driving pieces (surprise!), has me in a more reflective mood than creating Under the Greenwood Tree did. It seems very odd to me that playing the “noisy” music (not that it is all noisy by any means; and I hope that none of it would ever be called noise!) gets me feeling all reflective and quiet. Maybe I’m just trying to maintain balance!
Anyway, among those photos I found last week are several of previous studios where I created some of this music. Yes, some of these pieces have been waiting for the right album for (cough cough) years. Years that span seven studio set-ups for me. I think I counted that correctly; seems like a huge number. But, as I admitted just now, some of these pieces are ... ancient. By my standards, at least.
So here is the photo of my studio in Nebraska. We only lived there a year, but the house we rented belonged to a musician, and he had concert lighting all waiting for my piano. My husband insists this was what clinched our renting the house; I remember feeling relieved to find anyplace that would rent to us with 2 cats. But the living room “stage” was definitely a plus!
I went looking for a framed photograph yesterday, which by the way I did not succeed in finding. But I did find a treasure trove of other photographs, many from my earlier days of touring and teaching. And I found this:
“Back in the day” one of the zillion things I did as a musician was serve as music director for a local theater company. Not to knock anyone, but it did always seem to me that except when we were putting on a musical (and sometimes even then), the music pretty much took back seat to everything else. Especially the sets! So when this Jerry Van Amerongen comic first ran, I kept it as a talisman of working in the theater. It still brings back those times. Good times, really, just a touch frantic and hurried and harassed. (But when it all came together — so wonderful!)
Also, the actors were so scared of me during the first musical we put on. I wanted them to count! I wanted them to warm up! I wanted them to make a good faith effort to actually sing the music as written! They’re actors, they wanted to act. And here was this crazy woman they had to deal with who wanted them to master a second performance art. I was always very sweet with them, unless they talked while I was rehearsing a singer or trio. How can anyone hear what they need to change if there is this constant background of talking? To sing well, we need to hear well. (To play piano well, we need to hear well, too, of course. Our musician’s art is about listening and hearing.)