Saturday, December 19, 2009

P1 and P2 Get Along

Like most normal humans, I am a collection of conflicted personalities. Two of these characters play the piano, and mostly they exist only when playing the piano, and mostly they do not get along with each other.

The first of these personalities (P1, for short) was born when I was in high school. P1 learned to play piano by ear (and in a most undisciplined manner) and got me into a band, which suited me fine at the time. P2 was born a few years later when I started taking piano lessons in college. He practiced hard, with hours and hours of exercises to strengthen my fingers, and this made P1 a better player. But reading music was such a struggle for P2 that he never really learned to play. In secret, P2 would get P1 to memorize his classical pieces and P1 would play them in recitals. It never really worked out well.

In the 15 or so years that followed, P1 and I played music in bars and nightclubs until I finally ditched him (a long story) and left town to get a real life.

A few years ago I found a nice piano and decided to wake up P2 and start where we left off. This time he is going through my music books, page after page, from top to bottom, in slow motion, never stopping to actually learn a piece because doing so sends the music into my memory, and this prompts P1 to take over (something I can't really control). P1 is always there waiting, saying for God's sake just let me play it. But I want P2 to play, not from memory but while looking at the music at the page.

While going through a book of Vince Guaraldi music, P2 suggested that we record one of the songs, just to let him finally play something. After a few attempts it was clear what needed to be done. We got P1 off the couch, sobered him up with some coffee and let him have a go at it (even though he's old and out of practice), and he soon transported himself back to some smokey club where nobody would notice or care about the bad notes. It's nice when we can all get along. Merry Christmas.


  1. That was amazing! I love to listen to you play! Lets have a recital. And we just played it for Willow. She was very happy to hear her Pop jammin'!