Category Archives: Lessons

taking direction

When someone hires me to play on their music, try my best, follow my instincts and check whether they feel it hit the mark. If they’re happy, end of story. If they’re not try to help get what they want and if they aren’t very articulate it’s up to me to try 10 million variations. Finding a version that makes them jump up and down and hopefully say “perfect”. Then I feel like a pro.
This stems from the first times people hired me to play on their stuff and I threw a hissy fit when they weren’t satisfied. Mostly an internal hissy fit but still emotional. The fact that they didn’t “get it” that what I did was perfect and they rejected it for something lesser, didn’t compute. Now it stuns me that I was certain my choices were the best decisions for someone else’s taste because it’s their baby not mine. So many layers of wrong about my attitude.
I never hire anyone that’s that out of touch with reality or at least never a second time.


People wanting piano lessons.
See how the black notes are grouped into threes and twos.
Reach/ press those groupings up and down octaves, whatever speed you can.
Rest of it is more like that. See patterns, play with them.
p.s. you need special footwear.


I know someone who started playing an instrument later in life who told me when they started they’d be practising in the kitchen and their partner, who played the same instrument and was accomplished, from the other room while they practised would raise his voice and yell “flat!” or “sharp!” The way she told the story it was like he wanted to insult her with each proclamation. Amazing to hear because I found his behaviour understandable, didn’t see anything wrong with it. Didn’t think he had a clue she found it hurtful because I also matter-of-factly have made judgements to other people about their accuracy, maybe about pitch maybe about timing or design. I think it’s a heightened problem for people in a relationship.
There’s a certain amount of slogging through beginning musical studies that requires mechanical help like what you get from a metronome or like holding a kids hand while they balance on a bike but my friend felt insulted and I don’t think her perspective was completely unfair, I get why she felt hurt. I also get why her partner thought he was helping.
I once shared critical observations about the recorded music of a friend of mine and since then it feels like a wound between us and it’s a little impossible to address at this point so now I’m reluctant to tell them what I think, if in fact I have any critical observations, when they make new material. I say it sounds great because life’s short and I want to enjoy our relationship. Sometimes I pick and choose how honest to be about my opinion.