23 October 2007

City of Music

Here is my latest creative writing assignment. I don't think it's as good as the first, but that one probably shouldn't be posted here.

Andre Previn, Aqualung, Augustana, Avril Lavigne . . . she can go in the “Girly” play list. Don’t forget Debra Fotheringham. I made it to the Ks (Kelly Clarkson and KT Tunstall) before I decided I was sick of trying to find enough girly music to put into a play list. Annoyed by the ticking clock, I got up to shove it under a pillow only to discover that I was going to be late. Rushing out the door while still shoving things in my bag, I wondered randomly why I hadn’t asked anyone where the right bus stop was. I ran to the end of the road and wondered which direction would have a closer stop. Finally I turned right and walked and walked and walked, arriving at a bus stop only to discover that the bus was going the direction I had come from. I sighed and shook my head as we passed a bus stop directly left of where I had turned right.

Camilla picked me up and we had a short conversation about her career as a doctor. Lunch wasn’t as awkward as I thought it would be. Babies are a good way to get out of conversations. Just hold the baby and make cute sounds and hope no one asks you a question. It didn’t take me long to find the grand. It shone in the dim light, surrounded by walls of books. Cooing to the baby, I discovered a bookshelf with every classical CD I could ever dream of. CD after CD . . . Camilla noticed my fascination and began asking me what songs I had memorized. I faltered with the titles in English, so I thought it was a no-go, but to my surprise, she started whistling my first concerto. Then within seconds she had pulled the paper copy out of a drawer and had me seated at the piano to play it. Soon I was enjoying Chopin’s arpeggios and Beethoven’s precise notes. She hummed along and even packed up so me music for me to borrow. Then she sat down to play her favorites for me. The things that came from that piano will never be forgotten. This was someone with talent. This was someone who knew theory and had actually practiced in between lessons. And to think I had just been fumbling along on this piano that had known such great hands!

Just answering affirmatively the one little question, “Do you play the piano?” and the whole world’s ready to ask for your help. It’s like my Dad’s business truck that has become a moving van for every acquaintance. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much practice or effort to drive a truck. You’ve got the license and you’re set. Let’s just say that I don’t have a piano license and it’s embarrassing to say how long I’ve played. Especially since I have lost the piano touch (if I ever had it) while playing the organ the last seven years.

Two days later, I’m asked to play the organ at church. Sure, no problem. Some quick pedal action and only a few mistakes later, I’ve got three new requests to play, except this time real songs—songs that aren’t easy. Songs that will require practice. Songs that go from one flat to six (remember there are only eight keys on the piano).
It’s not long before I realize that everyone and their dog who plays the piano here means it when they say they play. They are precise. They can count. Their mothers probably didn’t have to force them to practice. And here I am, being handed pieces of music for musical nights in hopes that I can accompany . . .

This is Leipzig, after all—the city of music. The city where Bach would roll over in his grave if he heard me play. No more mediocrity. If there’s a chance in this life for me to improve my musical skills, this is it. I’m taking it. 1, 2, 3, whoops, a flat, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 . . .

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