Sunday, April 5, 2009

Like Julie & Julia... Only Not as Cool.

A couple weeks ago I took my mom to see Elton John and Billy Joel (also awesome, but not as awesome as Elton!) in the dream concert event for a piano rock junkie like me: the Face to Face tour! This was the 3rd time we got to see EJ in the last 10-12 years and if I could figure out a way to afford it, I'd go see hear* him again at Caesar's before the Red Piano gig closes this month.

*Yes, hear. I am a music fan, and, as a rule kind of prefer NOT to know what the artists' look like (an old Journey video ~almost~ made me have to give up listening to them; Steve Perry's scary hair was THAT disturbing) so all my EJ tickets have been in the nose-bleed section, where no one cares if I get up and dance and sing along. But I digress...

I don't treat myself to things like concert tickets very often, so I tried to hold on to the experience as long as possible, loading up my iPod with Elton & Billy tunes and listening to it loud enough that my office mate threatened to kick me out.

That's what made me decide to pester dh into re-learning the piano. His mom taught him the rudiments when he was a kid, but he preferred guitar and bass and has been asking for a new guitar for a while now. He grumbled about the bad memories (forced piano lessons) I was dragging up, so on March 25th I made a new decision.

I am going to learn to play the piano!

Things like the fact that I am tone deaf (per my mom) and can't read music or tell one note from another will NOT deter me. I think the piano is by far the coolest instrument ever and love to listen to it, have since high school. And I want to learn to play it.

Of course, I am too cheap for a real piano and full-on lessons (don't you people watch the news, sheesh!) so I found myself an online lesson series and ordered a keyboard.

Lessons: I'm not revealing the source of this one til I see how it works out. Even if they totally suck, I only spent $40 so it won't break my heart or my wallet.

I'm trying to keep this new hobby/habit/bad idea on a pretty limited budget in case it turns out to be a disaster or I give up on it. I just paperback swapped $60 worth of books on OOAK doll-making/customizing--a hobby that sounded like a cool plan during my last pregnancy 8 1/2 years ago--and moved a couple hundred bucks worth of supplies for the same into J's giant craft supplies box, so losing interest is not outside the realm of possibility.

Keyboard: I ~so~ want a full 88-key real feeling keyboard, but those suckers are hugenormous and around $500. Since dh is musical I made him help me pick out a 61-key for starters online, then devoted an afternoon to Froogling to find the best price. What I ended up with was this, and this link is where I got it, too (no kickbacks, sadly, so it's safe to satisfy your curiousity).

Free shipping, so I think I did pretty good -- Spent $100 on a nice Yamaha (same brand as EJ's pianos...not that I went all fangirl and looked that fact up or anything) to learn on that will resell decently if I abandon it.

Book: I found a book (still no kickbacks... obviously I don't do this for the money, lol!) on learning piano for kids that had the best of the many different "how-to-read-music" explanations I've read lately. I shredded the dust cover, though, so now I can read it at work and no one will notice I'm 25yrs older than its target audience.

Extras: Last but not least and probably most expensive, I spent $60 at Fry's this weekend buying a stand for the keyboard--because it is as big as my dining room table and was taking up the whole thing--and a stool to go with. The latter is mostly to help me learn proper playing posture; after all, you never see people playing the piano while sitting in a wingback, ya know?

So far in the past two weeks I've managed to learn:

  1. How to find the middle "c" on any keyboard, even a short one like mine.
  2. That this is going to be a helluva lot harder than I thought.
  3. How to get the keyboard back into the box so I could move it upstairs and invade the mancave.
  4. Playing (with) said keyboard without the headphones late at night will get me in trouble with my husband and child :-D
Who knows what I'll learn next? Yea, me either. Since I have nothing else to blog about we'll see how many interwebbers are interested in the trials & tribs of a 36yo music novice with ADD learning to play the piano without formal instruction. This should be fun!

PS - Reading sheet music is frellin' HARD.

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