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I’ve decided to start blogging about playing/practicing piano. I’ve wanted to learn to play, really play, for SO many years. Some people may say I’ve obsessed about it. I quit my job last November, and decided that this is the perfect time to finally devote the time and energy to pursuing my dream. At 55 years old, I’m aspiring to actually become a pianist.

Last year I bought a used Steinway 45″ studio piano. It’s 43 years old. I absolutely love this piano. I bought it from a lovely woman who had listed it on Craigslist. As soon as I played it, I knew it was the piano I was looking for. It has the feel and sound I was looking for. It sounds much bigger than a studio piano, but is just as easily played very softly. I love the fact that the piano was in her family for many years, and she (and other family members) learned to play on it.

In January I started taking piano lessons from a dear friend from my college days. She had majored in piano, while I majored in voice. She teaches at the college we attended in the early 70s. Judy is an awesome teacher. I’ve had some health problems that effect my hands, and she’s been amazing at coming up with ideas to minimize pain as much as possible, while continuing to get in as much practice time as possible. She works with my (weird? unusual? challenging?) musical background, and is open to requests and my many (many, many) questions. I’ve also had issues with memory and thinking clearly (possibly due to medication), and JB has great ideas for looking at the music on the page in different ways, and thinking musically about the piece while away from the piano. JB respects me as a musician, although my background is not in piano. She’s a teacher, encourager, dear friend.

I have a few piano heroes, who inspire me as I pursue this goal of becoming a pianist. First and foremost is my mom, Caroline Ruth Gulley. She started playing piano when she was five. She can play just about anything, from classical to gospel. She is an expert reader, and can also play by ear. I grew up listening to her play after I went to bed at night. It’s a beautiful memory. Another inspiration is the aforementioned JB, my current teacher. She’s a phenomenal pianist. I do believe there’s nothing she can’t play. Her technique is beautiful, and her passion is very evident. I could listen to her play all day. I first heard Judy play when I was 17, and had never heard someone her age play so beautifully. I’m honored to play for her every Friday. My other inspiration is our church pianist and my friend, Rebecca. It’s such a treat and a luxury to hear someone play so wonderfully every single week. Every Sunday I close my eyes and take in the beautiful music she makes. I hope to be able to play like that someday, but imagine it may be beyond my grasp.

So here I am, learning to play the piano at long last. I’ve had about 3 years of lessons along the way, if you add up the various times I’ve studied. Each time I took lessons, it was for a few months. There were many years in between lessons, and I never really got the strong foundation I needed. I’ve played on my own over the years, but haven’t attained any real proficiency. My plan now is to take lessons for 4 or 5 years. I plan to practice at least 2 hours a day, when I’m able. When my hands are terribly bad, I play for 5 or 10 minutes, then take a break. On a good day I can play for 4 hours. Beginning tomorrow, I’ll record my progress here ~ music I’m working on, how I’m going about working on technique, frustrations, successes, desires.


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