My piano teacher has mono. I took the opportunity to sign up for group piano lessons at SIU Edwardsville, since the summer session is just starting. SIU is a lot more convenient for me in terms of location, and this is a teacher who is used to working with adults. (I often feel like Alec patronizes me as if I'm a child. Maybe because I act like one. But still.)
Here's a story about this class:
So I showed up Wednesday night after several wrong turns trying to find the practice room. The room is full of upright electronic keyboards set back to back in four rows of three. The teacher's keyboard, of course, is set so he's facing us. We all have headphones to listen to our own playing, and he can flip a switch so we can all hear HIM playing.
Mr. Sawchak is joyous and enthusiastic, and has a long white beard. He reminded me of a math professor who used to refer gleefully to the proof of the Pythagorean theorem: "See?! MAGIC!" When I got there he was answering questions from a bald man about chord inversions. He wants us to think in terms of GROUPS of notes instead of individual notes, so we went straight into chord theory. After giving us A-C-E, C-E-G, E-G-B, etc., he asked each of us to play those chords in order until we got back to A, going up and then back down the keyboard.
I asked if we were staying on the white keys, so the A chord would be A minor, and he said yes. Proximity to a linguist has taught me that what I was doing was establishing myself as a smart ass. Did he SAY "A-C#-E"? (Which is exactly the question Alec would throw at me.) No, but he said "A chord," not "A minor chord." When he came to me I did it left-handed, because in my practice until now I've always started with left hand, then right hand. So the teacher assumed - incorrectly - that I'm left-handed. And I did it wrong, so that should cancel out my smart-assitude, right? (I was going to play A-C-E, B-D-F; he wanted A-C-E, C-E-G.)
He talked about root positions and inversions, and asked us to practice all of these for the next week (but all still on white keys). With both hands. Other things for us to practice: Five notes up and down with each hand, separately then together; trilling with two fingers, then with three, up and down the scale; stuff like that. This course is called Piano TECHNIQUE, and he is going to get us used to using our fingers in parallel and contrary motion.
This is the "wax on, wax off" stage of piano playing. I probably need it.
Alec, meanwhile, is supportive and says it will be good for me to get exposure to a different teaching style - and he hopes to have me back in the fall. I can say now that Alec has always had a higher opinion of my ability than I do, so he challenges me. I don't think this new class is going to challenge me, but it may give me some building blocks in terms of building finger muscles and reading vertically. We'll see. I feel like I was in college and have gone back to first grade ... with a strong suspicion that I shouldn't have skipped first grade the first time around.