Studying Piano

I can’t imagine that there is anyone that has talked to me in the last month or so that hasn’t heard that I’m taking piano lessons. In fact, everyone is probably pretty sick of hearing about it and probably thinks that’s all I talk about. So for those of you that don’t talk to me as often, let me tell you about my piano lessons.

Clavinova Digital PianoFirst a little background. I have often wished that I had started learning to play the piano when I was younger. I would love to be able to play classical music by Rachmaninoff and others. I took lessons when I was 17 or 18 for about a year or so. I did learn to read the bass clef and made some progress in many ways, but also learned a lot of bad habits and didn’t learn a lot of the technique and theory like I should have. Since then I have dreamed of the day when I would be able to own a piano and start taking lessons again.

About 6 months ago I woke up one day and realized that I was finally in a position where I had enough money and time to take lessons if I wanted to. That’s literally what happened. I distinctly remember lying in bed on a Sunday morning and suddenly being struck by the realization. I thought about it a lot for about a week and came to the firm conclusion that I absolutely wanted to start taking lessons. So I started the process of buying a piano.

If you’re not familiar with how complicated it is for me to purchase anything, you should read about my experience buying furniture. In short, it took me several months of looking around and reading about various models before I felt I had enough information to begin looking for the piano I was going to buy. Then after several more months of looking around and trying pianos out (occasionally dragging a pianist friend of mine along to get his opinion too) I found the perfect one. It’s a Clavinova CLP, so not as many bells and whistles as the CVP line, but with weighted keys that actually replicate the action in a grand piano. For a digital piano, I think it feels great to play. It also has the glossy black finish, which fits in perfectly with the rest of my decor.

The hunt for a piano teacher ended up being a much shorter hunt than I was anticipating. I got several lists of teachers from a few local music stores. There was one name on the list that I recognized: David Glen Hatch. He is a world renown concert pianist, so I figured he would be able to refer me to exactly the right kind of teacher. After talking on the phone and subsequently meeting with him for a (fairly thorough) interview, he offered to take me as a student. I was frankly shocked he was willing to take someone so amateur as me and actually had an opening, but really glad he was.

Now I’ve been taking lessons for about a month and a half. My goal is to practice 2+ hours a day. I’ve had days where I’ve practiced 4 or 5 hours, though I’ve also had days of practicing 30 minutes. I am still trying to figure out how to balance practicing with everything else. I’ve been working a lot lately (12+ hours a day). On those days I actually tend to be good at practicing, because I don’t try and do anything else: just work, practice, and sleep. The problem is, when I work fewer hours and try to do other things in the evenings like eat and do laundry, etc, then my practicing tends to suffer. Eventually I hope to get to the point where I can actually practice 2+ hours a day without it consuming my life.

I’m really excited to by studying the piano under Dr Hatch. He is really a fantastic teacher. His instructions for how to learn and practice are always very clear, precise, and effective. He has very high expectations but also is very encouraging. One of the best things is that every time I come away from a lesson he has made me more excited to practice and learn the piano (even when I was miserable from having my tonsillectomy).

I do think it will be a little while still before I would refer to myself as able to play the piano. But I that day is coming …