In my last post, the one where I discussed re-conceptualizing my writing practice in the wake of a long dry spell, I shared with you a little about how I’m learning to play the piano.
I described my process, which, as you may recall, consists of noodling around within the framework of a few chord patterns. I began, this past April, with three chords. I’ve added a few more, majors and minors, mostly, which I tend to play in a basic 1-4-5 progression. Nothing complicated.
I wasn’t intending to write more about learning to play the piano. But in fairness to the practice, I thought I might clarify a couple of points.
When I wrote that my studio friend, the one who showed me those first three chords, had unlocked the mystery of the keyboard for me, I was not implying that I somehow gained an instant understanding of that mystery. I haven’t. What my friend gave me was a decoder ring. It’s up to me to put it to use at the keyboard.
That is the practice.
I am, as I wrote, a rank beginner, which means I know almost nothing about this instrument. I’m delighted just to be playing with two hands, clumsy as they are. This is a thing! I sit down and play my few chords and I am blown away that I can do this. That I can play those chords with my left hand while I figure out a little melody with my right hand pleases the hell out of me.
That I can’t yet do the reverse, play chords with the right hand, and melody with the left, is just a function of how unskilled I am. How unpracticed. But I’m learning.
In that post I also wrote, with respect to learning the piano, that my goal was not to get better, but to play. I should clarify. It’s not that I don’t I want to get better. Of course I want to get better. I want to play melodies and chords with both hands, for pete’s sake. I want to improve.
It’s just not a goal.
In learning to play piano, I have no goal. What I have is a practice, a fluid and ongoing process. Unlike a goal, which is a fixed thing, an endpoint, something we can measure and measure ourselves against, a practice is simply what we do with intention. A practice is a path.
There is a time for goals, there are circumstances in which making goals makes sense. This is not that time for me. The only goal I want to embrace with any of my art, be it the music or the work on canvas or, yes, the writing, is the goal of maintaining a practice.
If you’re a regular visitor here, or intend to drop by again, please know that you can expect to see a few more of these process posts in the days and weeks to come, as I work out what it means to approach my writing as art. If reading about my writing journey interests you, I encourage you to return. If you’re bored by it and prefer the poetry or the cultural critiques, I encourage you to return, as well, since I suspect those are themes to which I will return, sooner or later, within the practice.
For now, I invite you to join me as I sit with this writing, noodle with it, maintain a connection to it, so that the words can begin to please the hell out of me — and perhaps you — once more.