Monday, March 30, 2009


I've been listening to a lot of piano music over the past few months, mostly for inspiration, but also just to immerse myself in the literature. The more I struggle with my own pieces, the more I start to notice about REALLY good players. For one thing, when you don't play yourself, you take a lot for granted--like, how they never make mistakes in their recordings!

As I got to digging around, I started revisiting an old, old, old ambition of mine, which was to play ragtime. Like a million other people in the mid-70s, I was introduced to rags through the Sting soundtrack, and it always killed me that we we never had a piano in the house. I think I asked once if we could get one, but I'm not sure where we would have put one even if my folks had said "yes." Meanwhile, I have always been jealous of people who could just sit down and toss off something like "Maple Leaf Rag" or the "Entertainer."

So, a month or so ago it occured to me that now that I had this "piano thing" back on track, I actually might have a shot at reviving that old "flame." Funny--the idea never even dawned on me when I started taking lessons.

I checked out a copy of the Dover edition of the Joplin Rags a month or so ago and started looking it over. Obviously, this stuff is way beyond me for now, but because I listened to the Rifkin album over and over again so many times I can replay most of these in my head from memory. For now, I can at least understand and appreciate what's what's really going on in the score-that four octave arpeggio in Maple Leaf for example! I've even started mapping out some of the chords and left hand parts from the Gladiolus Rag (IMO the most cosmic of all Joplin rags.) Right now, I can't play much more than a few bars of some of the left hand figures--but it's a start! Now I'm wondering what would happen if I just kept doing this--working out little bits at a time, and gradually fitting them together into larger sections, like a puzzle. Well, that's basically what I'm doing at this point anyway, so why not keep it up? Eventually, with the other pieces I'm working on I'm bound to catch up. I don't think I'm deluding myself this time--I think this is actually possible.

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