We’re just back from our annual Christmas trip to see the family in Wichita, KS – the weather on the return leg of the journey turned our one day road trip into two, with an unplanned stay in ice-blanketed Cameron, MO on Monday night, but otherwise the trip was wonderful and we had a great visit.
One of the highlights was making music with my sister and brother-in-law, both of whom are professional musicians with tons of talent. My sister sat at Mom’s piano and her husband brought his electric bass – we were a trio. On Saturday night we played together through many of the Suzuki Book Two tunes – they were sight reading and improvising, but nonetheless totally propping up my novice playing with their highly experienced accompaniment skills. We had a tremendous time, and played for a little over an hour.
Concretely, in addition to just adding to my tiny bit of experience playing with others, they helped me quite a bit with the rhythm for the first portion of the Boccherini Minuet, which I think has been the problem when I’ve tried to play along with the Suzuki Accompaniment track. The accompaniment is pretty complex, and I’ve never been able to hear where my part fits in very well. The rhythmic problems I was having helped me see the difference an eighth note can make when playing with others – syncing everything up is fun and hard work!
We considered our playing to be a rehearsal for a Sunday night family concert, when my nieces and youngest sister joined in on the production. We all sang and played numbers from musicals (my oldest niece just landed the lead in My Fair Lady with her school), my own Suzuki tunes, and everybody’s Christmas favorites, including a Hallelujah Chorus sing-a-long!
This follow-up concert to my family debut last year was a much better performance for me, but I’m still struck by the degree to which being outside of my living room changes the game for my playing. I plan on seeking out more opportunities to gain experience playing with others. I really think doing so is one key to developing my skills overall.
But I am also excited to get back to my regular practice; I only managed one half-hour session at the hotel otherwise during our trip. As I look out at the falling snow in Chicago this morning I sure can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing.
Thanks for reading.