Getting old fingers to move properly


Fred Coulter

Collector of ancient keyboards
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After posting 36 messages here, I probably should introduce myself. So here goes.

I'm a fifty seven year old, married, father of two college age daughters. I haven't played seriously in probably two decades, but have dusted off my keyboards and am trying to get my old fingers to move properly again.

A long time ago (in a city up the eastern seaboard on the Hudson River), I had a Fender Rhodes piano. I played at parties and had fun. But I wasn't playing all that seriously.

Then a friend of mine decided that if he formed a group, he (and the rest of the group) could go to science fiction conventions, get in free, and play a concert. He asked all of his friends if they were interested. Three other people showed up. One of them dropped immediately, and then we were left with three.

I played my Fender Rhodes, while he and the girl played guitar and sang. After a while, the girl and I noticed that our musical tastes weren't all that similar to the guy. We liked Renaissance, while he was more interested in the music played on Prairie Home Companion. So we fired him.

In order to flesh out the sound a bit, the girl bought a harp while I built a PAIA String Ensemble. We started getting gigs at folk clubs in New York City, using the club's piano and the String Ensemble as well as the guitar. We mostly played covers but the girl also brought in some pieces she had written.

It soon became apparent that the String Machine wasn't going to be flesh out the sound enough, so I got a DX7. We also included (on an occasional basis) a drummer, a bass player, and a saxophone/flute player. We played folk clubs up and down the eastern seaboard from Boston to Washington, and as far inland as Johnson City. We didn't make a lot of money, but it kept us sane.

Eventually we cut back to a duo, replacing the drummer and the bass player with a RX5. In addition to the clubs, we got a gig at the New York Renaissance Festival, where I played a clavichord that my father had built for us as a wedding present and a recorder. The girl played harp and guitar.

Oh, by the way. At some point during all this, the girl and I started dating and got married.

Eventually my wife finished school and earned a Ph.D. in Mathematics from NYU. Looking for a job, she started teaching at a liberal arts college in Central Florida. We played one gig here, but stopped looking for work after that. She was focusing on the job, while I returned to college and picked up a few degrees. We also had two daughters.

Fast forward a couple of decades, and both of my daughters have left the house. The last few years I performed in local theater, usually with my daughters. But now they're both gone, and I decided to get serious about music again.

My eldest daughter is about to graduate with degrees in mathematics and in political science. She thinks she'll try out for a community chorus wherever she ends up. (She started as a vocal performance major, but decided that she didn't want to perform or teach.)

My youngest daughter is a musical theater and vocal performance major. (Next weekend I'm flying out to see her perform in an opera.) She's wanted to perform her entire life, and is apparently pretty good at it.

So I've dusted off the keyboards and am cracking open the books. I took and passed the Advanced Rudiments assessment of the Royal Conservatory of Music, and am working on the Piano Level 6 assessment. I'd like to push both the piano and theory/composition as far as I can, but age may catch up with me. I'm also seriously considering both the organ and harpsichord assessments if I get good enough. (In additional to the clavichord, my father built a harpsichord. I'll be bringing it up to my house hopefully this summer.)

Just a warning: you may get videos of classical music on the forum, assuming I ever can get them taped without significant error. Hope that doesn't both your much.
 
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happyrat1

Destroyer of Eardrums!!!
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I envy you Fred.

I never had any proper training and could only afford my first mini keyboard in my mid thirties.

While I'm OK with my right hand my left hand's co-ordination is better suited to picking my nose rather than notes :D :D :D

All the same, technology is a great equalizer. It can turn a claw hand into a brilliant arpeggio and multitrack magic can turn "Itsy Bitsy Spider" into a Mozart Symphony :D :D :D

Don't feel bad if your reflexes are slowing down and your score reading glasses are becoming squintier. You've earned the right to pursue your passions in your golden years and the only critic you need to answer to is yourself :D

Gary ;)
 

Fred Coulter

Collector of ancient keyboards
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The most depressing part of all this is when I compare myself to my father. He was a concert pianist and composer, performing world premiers of Stockhausen and others. I know I'll never get that good.

(On the other hand, he told me that when he played in Berlin, all the papers talked about was his father, a big band clarinet player. I guess it's all relative.)
 

happyrat1

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Stockhausen, Webern and Schoenberg ain't exactly everybody's cup of tea. That 12 tone stuff is hard on most peoples' ears compared with more popular styles. :D

Then again my dad played the drill press and the arc welder all his life.

He didn't allow his sons to waste much time on "starving artists musical pursuits."

Nonetheless he was a brilliant businessman and a steady provider for his family.

I miss him dearly :(

Gary ;)
 
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Great to have you here, Fred! :)

Just a warning: you may get videos of classical music on the forum, assuming I ever can get them taped without significant error. Hope that doesn't both your much.
Doesn't bother me at all - bring it on :D
 
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Fred Coulter

Collector of ancient keyboards
Joined
Feb 15, 2016
Messages
825
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427
Location
Central Florida
I never had any proper training
Gary ;)
Never too late. Piano teachers LIKE having older students. They can talk about the music they grew up with; conversations with six year olds tend to be a bit more limited. My teacher and I debate whether Tony Banks or Keith Emerson was the better pianist.

Also, she's thinking about using me for some musicals as an auxiliary keyboardist. There are enough useful sounds on my DGX-650, but if I start getting gigs I've got a good reason to buy better. (One that I can use when talking to my wife.)
 
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