Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Pianist.

I'm not sure how to begin this post. I really want to tell you all about this, but it's such a part of ME, so locked up inside that I'm not sure I can. Feelings are so hard to put into words. This is when I question the power of language. Quite. However, I shall try, and see what happens.

It began last week at the piano. I have been doing QUITE a bit of technique at said instrument, lately, (1-2 hrs/day) and for some unknown reason, I have been enjoying it. Bizarre but true. So there I sat, practicing broken dominant 7th chords for the key of A flat major. Up, and down, and up and down, over and over, and over, and over, and I closed my eyes, and I began to think of singing, and how I (attempt to) detach myself from the sound, and key into the feeling, and begin to slide further and further away from the noises I am creating, and become conscious only of my body, and the happenings within it. As I sat there working these chords, I began to slip into that state, departing from the sound, escaping from the bother of listening for mistakes, and I began to feel what my fingers were doing, I began to concentrate only on that motion, feeling the tensions and releasing of the muscles through my arms, and suddenly I noticed how much my shoulders and back were involved, and how it radiated through me, down into my pelvis, where I rocked back and forth, and swayed to the circular motions that ensued. My legs, not rigid, but soft, following my every feeling, and my feet, firmly planted on the floor, yet vibrating with the pulsing rhythm of my body.

I began to experiment. I leaned back, and felt my arms become rigid as I attempted to play with much vigour, and as I circled back into a position directly over my hands, still caressing the keys in their constant sweep of the instrument, I found my arms, though still vigorous, were tense no longer, and I moved to once side, and I discovered that I threw myself off then, and to the other, and that fit better. With the motion of my head, I could release, or increase the tension, the strain in my body. Like a flower, who naturally swings around in an almost invisible slow motion circle, my torso moved, in this never ending circle of power and creativity.

At once, I ended my trance, and I looked down again at my fingers, playing this broken Dominant 7th chord still, and they were neat, and tidy, and the volume of the sound changed in a crescendo and decrescendo quite comfortable to my ear, riding on my own pulse, pumping my life blood to the very fingers that poured out my feeling. The notes were even, every one together. The sound was crisp, not a note out of place. I looked at my watch, and a whole half hour has passed. A half hour of discovery, of ritual, almost.

I have entered this state of pure bodily confinement, and yet freedom, that utter irony of being, many times in the last week. E flat major scale, B flat major broken chords, B flat major arpeggios, and today, C minor scale.

Once again I find myself flinging my fingers across the keyboard at an incredible speed, marveling at these same feelings I just spoke of. I stop. I put my hands in my lap. My eyes still closed, I place them back on the keys, in the correct spot. I am almost stunned by this ability of my body to memorize and the find and recognize the exact place on the keyboard without feeling any keys, without thinking or searching; I simply picked up my hands and placed them directly on the correct keys. I tried this several more times. The more I practiced it, the more often I got it correct. I began taking note of how the angles of my arms felt, and how much tension there might be in that finger to reach that key to begin that scale. I discovered for the first time ever, that I must practice every octave separately to gain absolute perfection in accuracy. I still cannot hear what I am doing, but this feeling lets me know. I continue recognizing these angles, and enticing my fingers to work harder, separating three single notes from the four octaves of continuity I have been working. They become menacing to me, as the fourth finger refuses to play with the fervour of the others, and I pull the desire out of it with slight motions, and as I turn my body and my arm and hand in a certain minute way, it comes alive, and close-to-perfection is achieved.

I open my eyes and begin to watch and listen as my body and fingers take over through my sub-consciousness. Slowly first, and then the speed increasing, my fingers fly through the space of my keyboard, and I marvel at how perfectly created this machine is. I have broken the trance, and as I begin to once again fear the ever-impending mistakes, my fingers stumble and fall, unable to take the added emotional strain of negative expectations. And as I back away from the piano, and once again let my body take over, the fingers float, as if sent to tell me something.

How can I take credit for that? I can't. It isn't me. It is my fingers. It is my body. It is this creation I live within. It is when I try to take that for myself that I fail. It is not mine.

And that when I fail, or when I don't, I once again remember to be "independent of the good or bad opinions others may have". For I am not the pianist.

It is Someone Greater.

~Sheila Christine


Maria Pauline said...

Wow. You never post when I expect you to, then when I don't, you post lots!

I'm loving it though. As evidenced in this last one, you are a good writer. Really. And it doesn't seem so very odd... though I have not experienced it, I can imagine. Music is a language in itself, you know.

Love you!

Idzie said...

Not good at expressing your feelings in words you say? What are you talking about, this post was beautiful!:-) That sounds like a beautiful experience to, and makes me rather wistful about the fact I can't play any instruments (besides bass/tenor drum which doesn't count). I should pull out my tin whistle again, and call to arrange guitar lessons...

Lorraine said...

What a beautiful testimony to the Gift of God that is in you! You have expressed this in such a profound and moving way, and given those of us without such a gift, a glimpse into your world. How encouraging to be reminded that we are all 'instruments in Christ's hands' and that life in its many aspects is deeply coloured, intricately woven and awesome beyond imagination. Thank You Sheila!


Mariah said...

Wow Sheila! That is awesome! I have never been able to do anything like that, and even if I did, I would never be able to put it into words as you did.

Lara Croft said...

I know the feeling well, and yes it is something miraculous. For me (guitarist) it's when I see myself in a mirror, playing complex music. It's almost shocking. I also have to concede that it's not me doing all that! PS thanks for your comment on my blog! PPS I remember those RCM history exams. Unforgettable, like Boot Camp. But worth it!