Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Lesson III, I'm a Loser

When I start a new project, especially from square one, I pretty much follow the same pattern. Sewing, golf, knitting, even cooking, it's always an initial wave of bubbling enthusiasm all the way to the first big crash.
Then I decide if I should continue.
Will this enhance my life?
Does it have any kind of pay-off in my practical life?
Will it stave off Alzheimer's?

Last week, my accordion lesson was nothing but pleasant and upward-lifting, because I knew nothing and had nothing to lose.

This week, I realized how much I didn't know and how far I had to go. Yakov was very encouraged and noticed that I did practice on reading music and getting the proper amount of air going in the right directions. He praised me for sitting properly and holding my accordion with the appropriate attitude for easier expansion and contraction.

We even included a new note ("A"), and I had to cover more of the keyboard. When I told him that I only knew 5 notes and 3 chords, he patted my arm and said "Dun't verry, Meddy Liu. Dats goot for TOUSANDS of songs!" And we laughed, him thinking about all he could teach me,...and me thinking that maybe that 5 notes and 3 chords may be just fine.

So, when he asked me to stay for just a few extra minutes to see his prize pupil, I was happy to oblige him. This is where I became a Loser.

Let me just say that I was unaware that one could play an entire symphony on an accordion, and was just the warm up. I was all of a sudden another okay hobbyist in the presence of a virtuoso. And his teacher was the maestro, conducting, directing. "Crescendo!...Andante!..Staccatto!"...arms flailing and the music stand the object of a laser-like focus. I could hear his fingers tap each key as he pounded through eighth notes like they were melted chocolate, and his left hand was pushing combinations of chords that are not in my current repertoire. His bellow placement was perfect and he never ran out of air.

What world is this kid from? Home school world. He also plays piano. And when I asked how old he was, "18". Really? "What are you plans for next year? Have you auditioned for many universities?" Oh, no. no plans for that. He's already working in the family business, heating and cooling. Wow. I guess I'm not the only one interested in enriching my life, just because I think it's beautiful. Someone else has guided this boy to think so too.

When I was leaving, Yakov held open the door. The boy had begun his primary piece.
"That's Handel", Yakov clued me in.
"Sounds like a requium" I guessed.
"Veedy Goot, Meddy Liu". Yakov was pleased that I had that word in my vocabulary.
Me too.
See you next week.


  1. Mary Lou, your posts are so funny! As you know I recently started running and will be running my first 5K in about a week or so. I have a friend that is also a runner and she just informed me that she registered for the race as well. As excited as I am about the race, knowing that she's a marathon runner kind of bums me out. I certainly don't expect to have a good time in my first race, but I'm not going to come anywhere near her time. So, in a sense, I understand this "Loser" feeling; but in the scheme of things, at least you and I are making steps to learn and do something new, right? And I'm thinking this accordion thing will do something for Alzheimers prevention! :)

  2. Mary Lou - Thank you for this story! It exactly captured an experience that I had after my third or fourth accordion lesson last year, so it really struck a chord (ha!). In my case, the whiz kid was 14 years old and already considered a master player. I couldn't pick up my instrument again for a week! But, I did pull it out of its case again, and rediscovered how much I love the physicality of playing that instrument. I will probably never be very facile, especially with the left hand, but if I take the challenge little bites at a time, and play JUST FOR ME, it's an amazing feeling when the fingers do end up in the right places!


  3. You are truly a gifted story teller. I hope you continue blogging beyond the 23 Things project.

  4. Thanks for taking the time to read my post! I think we all have similar experiences, whether in lessons or life. Sometimes,...what did Tom Hanks say in "A League of Her Own"?.."It the hard that makes it great".