The piano has been a form of relaxation for me as long as I remember. When I moved up here, without one, it took me a long time to learn to wind down, without the piano to use as my emotional adjunct. I sung a lot more, mostly - and as my singing voice is not the best in the world, this is not really an adequate alternative. I love to sing, but other people don't love hearing me. (Although I sing a mean game of Rock Band, provided the stereo is cranked loud enough.)
The piano got me through some really tough spots. I'd come home from a bad day at work, or university, especially when I was in my worst spot with depression, or after I broke up with Cyclenut, and I'd play for hours and hours. Mum always knew that if I started off playing Rage, it was probably best to leave me alone until I worked it out of my system.
When I bought the piano in February, I had lost a lot of skill. This wasn't entirely surprising, owing to my three years without a piano. I could still sight read, although some of the notes out of stave and stave swaps are still catching me out - I can interpret them, but instead of my previous ability to subconsciously translate music->brain->fingers, I now have to stop, check, read, place fingers, continue. Practice is, unsurprisingly, helping.
I purchased myself the second volume of sheet music from The Piano. My piano teacher gave me the first book, years ago. I'd never seen the movie, but the music caught my ear from day one, the haunting emotiveness of it. I watched the Piano for the first time last month. Mostly, I've been playing the music correctly. Having seen the film, I can play the music better. It's taken me a while to return to skill levels where I felt comfortable attempting new music; I then realised that I'd underestimated my returning abilities. It was a good feeling.
In March, I tried a piece from Prokofiev. It's a piece I loved playing, prior to The Big Move. In March? I physically could not force my fingers to play the appropriate sequences quickly enough to even vaguely resemble anything musical, and the octave stretches required were a little testing.
A little testing? A lot. I cried, several times, in February and March, through sheer frustration at my inability to play, something that used to be almost as easy as breathing. I had to force myself through exercises that I used to be able to do with my eyes shut, literally. I'm still having trouble with octave reaches - either this piano is small, or my hands have grown, because I keep playing ninths instead of octaves. Playing scales in octaves is helping, if extremely boring.
Tonight, I tried the Prokofiev again. I manged to play it through. Not well, admittedly, and in retrospect playing glissandos with a large chunk out of one finger (playing with cat, did not move fast enough) may not have been my wisest ever move, but... I can actually DO this. My skill IS returning, I'm not just dreaming it.
I've been around music all my life. My mother is a pianist (although by her own admission, less technically proficient than I am - she is better at playing by ear, though). My grandfather played saxophone and clarinet. I remember sitting in front of a keyboard without legs, bashing away happily at the keys while I was wearing nappies. Mum has corroborated the memory, along with my memories of plunking at the piano she and Dad got rid of before I was three.
I love having the piano. I really can't express how much. I'm relearning music, and enjoying the simple academic achievement therein. I have the emotional release, where I can storm home on a bad day and work my way through Michael Nyman, John Williams*, Michael Hsiao**, Prokofiev, Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, Debussy... anger and fear and upset and rage, temper and stupidity and irritation and frustration, working through to quiet and calm and peace.
Having the piano is really what's made this house home. I've played until my hands hurt, tonight, until the tendons in my forearms are painful, despite scales and exercises, until typing is difficult because I've just had to rewire my brain-finger connections for the third time today, until the cut on my finger was bleeding; and I am unspeakably happy.
* I have the sheet music from Schindler's List. The Krakow Ghetto and the main theme are in pretty much constant rotation.
** I found his music online years ago; the site doesn't exist any more, and none of the Googling I do can turn the man up. This is possibly Google-fu-fail on my part, but it is quite sad.