Adjectives for what you feel or think about when you play?

Posted by: Sand Tiger

Adjectives for what you feel or think about when you play? - 01/31/13 12:00 AM

Nancy Williams, author of Reflections of a Grand Passion, uses some interesting words to describe her piano experiences. To avoid coloring the responses, I'll save them for later.

For now, I'd like to know what words, what adjectives, what feelings, you might use to describe your time spent playing the piano.
Posted by: ju5t1n-h

Re: Adjectives for what you feel or think about when you play? - 01/31/13 12:42 AM

haha - Frustration
Posted by: casinitaly

Re: Adjectives for what you feel or think about when you play? - 01/31/13 02:20 AM

Well, of course I could use ju5t1n-h's ... I think all of us have those moments!

However, how about that moment when you nail a tricky bar - or when you first recognize that OP 122 N 987, the piece you've been reading and stumbling through, is actually something you've heard a zillion times...and now YOU are playing it!!!!

In a word: Delighted.
Posted by: ju5t1n-h

Re: Adjectives for what you feel or think about when you play? - 01/31/13 02:35 AM

Originally Posted By: casinitaly
Well, of course I could use ju5t1n-h's ... I think all of us have those moments!

However, how about that moment when you nail a tricky bar - or when you first recognize that OP 122 N 987, the piece you've been reading and stumbling through, is actually something you've heard a zillion times...and now YOU are playing it!!!!

In a word: Delighted.


I think I'd use 'Relieved'

haha I'm not actually a pessimist but I have to be up in 5 hours for work and I'm not the slightest bit tired! Need to buy a concrete pillow
Posted by: Mr. Cid

Re: Adjectives for what you feel or think about when you play? - 01/31/13 02:43 AM

Calm. Or to be more specific, a mix of annoyance and patience. I can never seem to hit the notes like I want to. Patience is a virtue.

-Mr. Cid
Posted by: SwissMS

Re: Adjectives for what you feel or think about when you play? - 01/31/13 08:08 AM

I will separate "practicing" from "playing". When I am practicing I am focussed, getting work done. When I sit down and just play, I am emoting and just letting the music take me where ever it goes. It is liberating and thrilling.
Posted by: Allard

Re: Adjectives for what you feel or think about when you play? - 01/31/13 08:39 AM

I'll tag along with Cheryl here, "delighted". Hearing myself play some of the music I love, even if just a few bars, fills me with delight and makes me want to learn more and more.
Posted by: zrtf90

Re: Adjectives for what you feel or think about when you play? - 01/31/13 08:59 AM

I play like lightning - I never hit the same note twice smile

Unless it's a wrong'un. laugh
Posted by: FarmGirl

Re: Adjectives for what you feel or think about when you play? - 01/31/13 11:44 AM

Sheer joy! I try to avoid piano when I'm getting ready to go to work. I forget about everything once I sit in front of the piano. In fact after reading you guys post I wandered to piano and missed my 1:1 with my boss.
Posted by: rada

Re: Adjectives for what you feel or think about when you play? - 01/31/13 01:06 PM

Hmmm....I want to know what Nancy said...I don't like to describe my playing for two reasons. One I don't think I would pick the right words and two I don't know what others are feeling but I can share their words....distinctive, delicate, relaxing. I can agree with those words.

rada
Posted by: JimF

Re: Adjectives for what you feel or think about when you play? - 01/31/13 02:07 PM

Amazed and delighted.

It always amazes me that I can actually make music, even when it is flawed music, from looking at notes on the page.


Awed and challenged.

I am awed at how difficult this thing is that we have chosen to learn. There is no doubt that learning to play the piano is way, way harder than anything I have ever undertaken.

edit to add that on further reflection I'm having trouble coming up with an emotion that I have not had at the piano bench!
Posted by: Sand Tiger

Re: Adjectives for what you feel or think about when you play? - 01/31/13 04:24 PM

Originally Posted By: rada
Hmmm....I want to know what Nancy said...


Okay enough suspense, Nancy Williams uses the word rapture to describe her piano experience in a recent blog post.
http://www.nancywilliamspiano.com/2012/12/31/reckoning-2012-new-years-resolutions/

In another blog entry, she uses the word blissful.

Personally, I have used the word transcendent to describe my music experience. When I get that feeling in front of an audience, it becomes connection, a feeling of being at peace with the world. Another analogy, it is as if people are like tuning forks, and when we hit the right note, or sequence of notes, our bodies, minds and spirits resonate with the music. This fits with a goal I derived from a John Coltrane quote:
My music is a spiritual expression of who I am

Like JimF writes, my range of emotions is wide. I expect it is that way for a lot of people. Some writers say they like having the completed work, but the actual process of producing that work can be tedious, discouraging, frustrating, headache producing and worse.
Posted by: -Frycek

Re: Adjectives for what you feel or think about when you play? - 01/31/13 06:56 PM

When I'm practicing, I feel fullfilled, more at peace with myself and my place in the world than at any other time in my day. At the keys, I feel I'm where I belong and doing what I'm supposed to be doing. All's right with my world. I feel righteous.
Posted by: keystring

Re: Adjectives for what you feel or think about when you play? - 01/31/13 07:46 PM

When I play music, I think about the music I'm playing.
Posted by: piano_deb

Re: Adjectives for what you feel or think about when you play? - 01/31/13 10:21 PM

When practicing, I can feel focused, searching, questioning, amazed, energized. Sometimes calm and almost meditative; I feel a softening, like I'm sinking into the sound, my mind coming to a state of rest and the only sound is the piano, everything else is silent. (That's a very hard state for me to ever achieve, for a variety of reasons. There's a lot of noise in my life, and in my mind.) Sometimes I'm simply thrilled by the fact that my fingers are starting to feel like the movement is natural, or that I got the cross-over without thinking about it, or the right fingering, or the tempo. That feeling that I think most of you mean by playing. I always feel like I'm still just practicing, not really playing yet. But I see/feel glimmers of what I will achieve!

I can also feel frustrated, lost, confused, confounded, groping in the dark, fumble-fingered, 10-thumbed, aghast at my ability to repeat the same ($&^^@!! mistakes over and over. Also, tired, stupid and lame-brained.

But — and I think it's important to say this — I never, ever feel completely fed-up with it all. I never despair. Even in my worst moments, I know that I'm only feeling a momentary frustration and that, no matter how many times I feel it, that's not the overall experience. Playing/practicing is more positive than negative. I know I'm making progress, albeit slowly, and that one day I will truly play the piano with pleasure and power and understanding.
Posted by: BenPiano

Re: Adjectives for what you feel or think about when you play? - 02/01/13 12:14 AM

I would say "relaxed". Like this is supposed to be where I am and I'm home.
Posted by: Toastie

Re: Adjectives for what you feel or think about when you play? - 02/01/13 02:06 AM

I don't think I'm good enough to experience any piano playing rapture yet... Kind of hard when playing "there's a hole in my bucket". I do still get a lot of happiness from it though.
Posted by: malkin

Re: Adjectives for what you feel or think about when you play? - 02/01/13 09:40 AM

Originally Posted By: Mr. Cid
...Patience is a virtue...


Patience is a virtue,
Virtue is a grace,
And Grace is a little girl who does not wash her face.

What's up with the bold italics?
Posted by: keystring

Re: Adjectives for what you feel or think about when you play? - 02/01/13 11:13 AM

Who is this Nancy Williams?
Posted by: FarmGirl

Re: Adjectives for what you feel or think about when you play? - 02/01/13 11:50 AM

I might be an oddball here. I don't play well but feel good by just pressing the keys to make sound. Don't you guys feel certain amount of sensual pleasure by just playing. I mean pressing the key, feeling the vibration of the strings beyond...
Posted by: JimF

Re: Adjectives for what you feel or think about when you play? - 02/01/13 05:49 PM

Originally Posted By: FarmGirl
I might be an oddball here. I don't play well but feel good by just pressing the keys to make sound. Don't you guys feel certain amount of sensual pleasure by just playing. I mean pressing the key, feeling the vibration of the strings beyond...


Big yes. thumb
Posted by: Saranoya

Re: Adjectives for what you feel or think about when you play? - 02/02/13 01:55 AM

I get frustrated easily when I play, like most people here. My frustration comes from the fact that I am not (yet?) physically capable of producing on the piano all of the delightful music that is in my head. Sometimes, I doubt that I will ever get there at all.

But then, when a piece I've been working on is starting to come together, and I no longer need to think about the notes or the rhythm because they've become pretty much ingrained in my muscle memory, the piece of music I'm playing becomes like an empty canvas, upon which I can express emotions that are difficult to express any other way.

I have a difficult time controlling my emotions. They overwhelm me, seemingly out of nowhere. As such, I can be positively euphoric one day, but ready to jump off the nearest bridge the next. That's the kind of thing I'm better off not saying out loud to anyone. But when I sit down at the piano, and I have a piece that qualifies as an 'empty canvas', then it finds an out.

In a nutshell, that is why I know I will be playing for the rest of my life. That is why I dared to make the leap when someone else bought me a €20.000 grand, and expected me to pay him back. Music is a balm for my soul, both in the heights of joy, and in the depths of despair.
Posted by: Nomadness

Re: Adjectives for what you feel or think about when you play? - 02/02/13 03:21 AM

The following is a snippet I wrote in 1984 about playing the flute in Arches National Park, having fun with the complex echoes returned by massive walls of red rock. I am not there yet with the piano, but there are little moments with familiar pieces when this delicious balance returns to remind me why I continue to work at this... despite all the frustrations of starting late in life:


My vision soared; the shackles fell. I played with a smooth complexity unmatched before or since, toying with echoes, flirting with wind, seeking and quickly finding that precise balance between too much and too little attention. I became a focused listener, absorbed in the sound without fully realizing that I was the one making it, guiding it gently with humor and expectation. "Everything in music must be at once surprising and expected," said Beethoven, and I was stunned to observe that something pouring from my own spirit could indeed be both.

Yeah... my spirit. Not my intellect. That was the key! I was listening, not playing -- the flutist was someone else: a musician reacting to my fantasies, a psychic puppet, a built-in minstrel subject to my every whim. I was aware of Judith's soft presence, but knew not the self-consciousness of "performance."

The subtlety grew; the sound became an impressionistic image of the land around me -- a synesthesia made tangible. It had no idiom, no key, no tonic. Little tensions appeared and then resolved themselves like micro-sonatas, but the music was less that than a documentation of magic, a moment-to-moment realization of the possibilities contained in consciousness.

This was not composition... it was breath.



-Steven K. Roberts

Posted by: Saranoya

Re: Adjectives for what you feel or think about when you play? - 02/02/13 05:57 AM

Originally Posted By: Nomadness
The following is a snippet I wrote in 1984 about playing the flute in Arches National Park, having fun with the complex echoes returned by massive walls of red rock. I am not there yet with the piano, but there are little moments with familiar pieces when this delicious balance returns to remind me why I continue to work at this... despite all the frustrations of starting late in life:


My vision soared; the shackles fell. I played with a smooth complexity unmatched before or since, toying with echoes, flirting with wind, seeking and quickly finding that precise balance between too much and too little attention. I became a focused listener, absorbed in the sound without fully realizing that I was the one making it, guiding it gently with humor and expectation. "Everything in music must be at once surprising and expected," said Beethoven, and I was stunned to observe that something pouring from my own spirit could indeed be both.

Yeah... my spirit. Not my intellect. That was the key! I was listening, not playing -- the flutist was someone else: a musician reacting to my fantasies, a psychic puppet, a built-in minstrel subject to my every whim. I was aware of Judith's soft presence, but knew not the self-consciousness of "performance."

The subtlety grew; the sound became an impressionistic image of the land around me -- a synesthesia made tangible. It had no idiom, no key, no tonic. Little tensions appeared and then resolved themselves like micro-sonatas, but the music was less that than a documentation of magic, a moment-to-moment realization of the possibilities contained in consciousness.

This was not composition... it was breath.



-Steven K. Roberts



This was not writing ... It was beauty wink.
Posted by: Sand Tiger

Re: Adjectives for what you feel or think about when you play? - 02/02/13 01:45 PM

>> My vision soared; the shackles fell. I played with a smooth complexity unmatched before or since, toying with echoes, flirting with wind, seeking and quickly finding that precise balance between too much and too little attention. ...
>>

Nomadness, that is some beautiful prose. I am another fluter, though I am more of a hack than a musician on flute because I started so late and put so little time into it. Overall, I find the wind instruments to be more pure, than my digital piano. The breath has a lot to do with it.

Thanks all for the replies.
Posted by: Nomadness

Re: Adjectives for what you feel or think about when you play? - 02/03/13 01:31 AM

Thank you so much for the kind words, Saranoya and Sand Tiger! It was a moment of passion, and I'm so glad I took the time to write about it... such things can be terribly fleeting and remembered later only as vague impressions.

I do wish I were often in that zone on the piano; the flute was deeply familiar but only by ear, and I never started to learn to read music until I was 54 (the same time I started with the piano). It is slow going still, six years later.

Somewhere in there, I got on a Satie kick and taught myself the first four Gnossiennes, and I never tire of them. Although I do have a few four-chord wonders and a few other pieces under my fingers, only Satie can take me to that place where the analytical intellect finally gets out of the way and lets the music reflect emotion. (I suspect a lot of other things would do that too, but I can't play them yet!)

I honestly couldn't say at any moment in those pieces what chord I'm playing; I'd have to stop, switch gears, think about it, and completely lose my place. From a pedagogical perspective, I suspect this is not a good thing, but I don't really care... the fact that I can enjoy that magic as a relative newbie on the keyboard gives me enough hope to continue, and that's all that matters.

I'm now living aboard a sailboat, and building a piano into the lab/studio desk.


Warm cheers from Nomadness, and a toast of recognition to Saranoya... very well said up the page there, just before my post! And Sand Tiger, you're right... there is an intimacy in the breath that I can't really even imagine ever finding through my fingers. Good point...

Steve
Posted by: casinitaly

Re: Adjectives for what you feel or think about when you play? - 02/03/13 06:53 AM

Nomadness- that was sublime. I don't think I've ever hit anything like with music I've played, or been a part of playing...but is is lovely to imagine that day!

I am adding a new word "calm".

I'm learning a new piece, which is very light, sweet, delicate.
Even though there are parts that I haven't quite got the swing of, I find this piece calming.

(Schumann's "Melody" Op 60, N1)
Posted by: FarmGirl

Re: Adjectives for what you feel or think about when you play? - 02/03/13 08:19 AM

Nomadness, what a beautiful thought! I would love to experience such feeling.

Saranoya, I can somewhat relate to you. Years ago when I came back to piano, I was in not so great situation. I felt bad about breathing air because i did not feel worthy to live. Looking back its not that devastating but a divirce in a foreign land for this spoiled girl was too much to bear. I got married with an American college teacher (an irresponsible & violent person) without waiting to graduate Japanese college! So I wound up becoming a minimum wage worker here. I felt miserable every day. I did not want go home to face my tiger mon either! Then one day I heard Chopin in a movie. Can't remember what it was unfortunately. It just permeated into my soul. I sneaked into Arizona State University one day and played the piano. I was thrilled that I could still remember my childhood pieces! Let me say that it was the beginning of all the good things happened. At least it was the only beautiful moment in my life at that time. I feel immensely grateful that I'm alive and have music with me.
Posted by: Artur Gajewski

Re: Adjectives for what you feel or think about when you play? - 02/03/13 02:10 PM

I press the keys
Black and white
Try to play well
A long long fight
The sound of a note
The feel of the key
I'm in heaven
Posted by: peterws

Re: Adjectives for what you feel or think about when you play? - 02/03/13 05:32 PM

"When I sit down and just play, I am emoting and just letting the music take me where ever it goes. It is liberating and thrilling."

I wish that were true for me. I hit too many wrong notes, especially when I get over enthusiastic or loud . . .so frustration is the word that comes to mind.
Posted by: casinitaly

Re: Adjectives for what you feel or think about when you play? - 02/03/13 05:47 PM

Originally Posted By: FarmGirl
Nomadness, what a beautiful thought! I would love to experience such feeling.

Saranoya, I can somewhat relate to you. Years ago when I came back to piano, I was in not so great situation. I felt bad about breathing air because i did not feel worthy to live. Looking back its not that devastating but a divirce in a foreign land for this spoiled girl was too much to bear. I got married with an American college teacher (an irresponsible & violent person) without waiting to graduate Japanese college! So I wound up becoming a minimum wage worker here. I felt miserable every day. I did not want go home to face my tiger mon either! Then one day I heard Chopin in a movie. Can't remember what it was unfortunately. It just permeated into my soul. I sneaked into Arizona State University one day and played the piano. I was thrilled that I could still remember my childhood pieces! Let me say that it was the beginning of all the good things happened. At least it was the only beautiful moment in my life at that time. I feel immensely grateful that I'm alive and have music with me.


You have certainly come a long way since then FarmGirl.
It sounds like your music helped you start to heal.
That certainly is a blessing!
Posted by: Saranoya

Re: Adjectives for what you feel or think about when you play? - 02/03/13 06:55 PM

Hi, FarmGirl. And thank you.

Thank you for showing me a small glimpse of your journey, and for making it clear what a positive role music (and, specifically, piano playing) has had in it.

In life, we all have our own burdens to carry, and we all have to find a (hopefully constructive) way to cope -- be it through music, some other art form, or something else entirely. If your goal was to remind me of that, then you accomplished it beautifully.

I'm sorry to hear that your ex-husband was a jerk (pardon my French), and very glad to know that you are now no longer with him -- even though I know it must have hurt a lot when things first started falling apart for you.
Posted by: j&j

Re: Adjectives for what you feel or think about when you play? - 02/03/13 07:10 PM

Many beautiful thoughts on playing, but I'm not there yet. For me, it takes a great deal of time, effort, focus, and practice to get to the point where I can relax and "just play". But for the few times that I can just relax and let my fingers and spirit soar, it's worth the many hours of practice.