Friday, November 5, 2010

Jazz, On The Page

I just recorded some jazz piano. But now I can't find the cord to download the videos from the camera, and that's probably just as well. If I had to choose one word to describe the videos: boring. (And that's one of the nicer words.)

Funny, because I didn't feel at all bored while playing. My ears were buzzing, my heart racing, my toes tapping, my mind struggling to get things right, struggling to turn those notes on the page transformed into instructions for my fingers, which is the opposite of how I played for years--from memory and while watching my fingers go wherever they liked.

Each day I get a little better at sight-reading and I enjoy it more and more, like reading a good book, lost in time for a while, even to the point that I can't actually hear the boring crap I'm playing as I'm playing it. But it's a struggle, and my improvement is measured in snail steps.

I could just memorize these songs and watch my fingers play them, but I'm determined to stay on the page. My fingers (to be honest) are stuck in some smoke-filled blues club of the past, and they don't like being told what to do.

Sometimes, usually early in the morning when my brain is not too worn out, I can read through a difficult passage effortlessly, and I get it. Like a teacher once said: "Playing an instrument is easy; playing music is hard." Or, as jazz musicians like to say, "Cool."

Except I'm almost never cool.

Looking at this from a broader perspective, I would probably be happier if I didn't record videos of my playing or, in general, if I didn't spend too much time measuring my own coolness. Oh well, one snail step at a time.

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