Symphonic Saturday – The Languages of Music


music1I have a number of instruments, but none I can currently play well. Learning an instrument is much like learning a language.

Piano is the one I find most difficult because it is like learning more than one language at once. I’ve always struggled with bass clef and my head might explode if I tried to play pieces written in some of the less common clefs. When I look at the keys from a treble clef view, I almost always know where to put my fingers. Especially on the major keys. The keys don’t change, but when I see the notes on the bass line, I have to chant, “All Cows Eat Grass” or “Good Boys Do Fine Always” in order to have a hope of knowing where to put my fingers.

I’d probably be much further ahead had I stuck with piano lessons, but they were expensive and my teacher was trying to convince me to go to church with her. At that time, I wasn’t one for church. Today, I enjoy it. Life is like that some times.

The other instruments I attempt to play are all in treble clef. I enjoy electric guitar, but haven’t gotten anywhere near proficient. I yearn to be able to play blues on my guitar. The bonus with guitar is that there is a volume control, but I’m really talented at cutting my fingertips, which screws up any kind of practice schedule I try to put myself on.

I have a ukulele as well and its notes are different from guitar, so that is again like learning a different physical language in terms of where to place my fingers.

I still have my recorder from 25 years ago, but I’ve never enjoyed the sound of a recorder. Perhaps the sound memories of 30 or so kids in a room all trying to make music for the first time ever have traumatized my ears when it comes to recorders.

I enjoyed playing clarinet in high school, though I’ve never owned one. I think I may want one again some day though a saxophone might be more my style now. Probably a soprano sax despite them not being recommended for newbies. I have some experience with embouchure, so I’m not worried about it.

I’ve noticed that learning an instrument feels the same as trying to learn to speak a new language. There is that same frustration of desperately wanting to express myself, but being unable to do so. In language, it’s through words. In music, it’s through wanting to play my favourite songs or a particular genre.

Trumpet is my preferred instrument, but I needed to get a better mute that didn’t have a ton of back pressure, so I wouldn’t drive the other condo owners crazy. The Yamaha silent system I have just didn’t work for me. This morning, I ordered the Trumcor Stealth I’ve been eyeing for at least a year now. It’s expected to arrive in about a week and a half! I’m excited to get back to my main instrument. I can start doing some old exercises to get my embouchure back like lip buzzing while I’m waiting for it to arrive.

Music is a huge decompression tool for me and it’s important to have those outlets. Returning to my trumpet playing roots while also returning to my love of theatre and film is like putting myself back on the path I would’ve been on had I made some different choices in my youth.

Music is the language of my soul.

I’ve pushed the reset button on my life and I feel it’s likely the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.

Guid cheerio the nou,
R~

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