After many years of hacking sounds out of my little squeeze box, I’ve gone on the internet and bought myself a book. It’s time. I want to know which buttons correspond to the numbers people like to shout out while playing music. Music is about spirit and sound and joy and connection, but it’s also about mathematics and practice. I’ve got the abandon bit of it sewn up and in these new careful times it’s probably worthwhile to see what it means to look towards the mathematics. If I can write this every day, I can practice every day as well. I think I’ll earmark the morning and see how it goes, and not consider it broken if I miss a bit. I might even start taking grades so I can put things on my CV for when we emerge from the ruins of our industry in our blasted motley and painted smiles to tell mournful stories to the ones who still have souls.
Right now it’s painfully slow. I’m going through the beginner exercises and practices and having revelations about how quickly the dots on the bar can transfer through the brain to an impulse to move the correct finger. Slowly, piece by piece, this old dog is going to learn an old trick properly. Hell, at least I’ll have something to work towards if we go back into lockdown. And as the owner of two accordions – one for travel and one for stage – it would be a waste to continue to be as clueless as I am about it. Besides, the medicine told me to play. At Medicine Festival, loads of the practitioners brought music into their ceremonies, and later in Glastonbury there was music at the heart of the night we spent awake in the circle. It’s one thing to be a folk musician and play by ear, but I want to be more reliable in my music than that so I can safely play tender pieces without jamming into a complete discord because my fingers are in the wrong place. If we somehow manage to put Christmas Carol on again I want to be able to talk and play at the same time without my eyes rolling backwards in my head. Time for some facility with it.
Although I’m juggling too many plates as it is right now. I’ve got dinner plates to sort out and maybe sell, I’ve got this flat to turn around, hex to take care of, all the random bits and bobs in the world to move around and rehouse and sort and catalogue, plus lines to be easy with for the 21st. Plus I’ve got Kitcat who is clinging like a limpet to London and yet has already paid rent to somebody else in Glasgow. She says she can’t pay me now. I’ll likely have to run her up as a swansong for the old Nissan just to get the room back, although frankly she should just get a Megabus and have done with it. It’ll be like an adventure for her, so long as nobody is throwing up.
All that plus my birthday coming on the 24th. I’m hoping it’s going to be good weather as I’m planning on dropping a pin on Hampstead Heath and then sitting there with a rug and seeing who shows up. It’s outdoors, and it’s lovely on the Heath and there’s enough space that people can sit miles away from each other and shout things.
With all this to do you’d think I’d be motivated, but today I’ve been pretty low energy. I’m confused and a little upset at Kitcat being so willfully oblivious to my needs over her own. I went to the Chelsea Physic Garden and sat on benches in the sunshine under arbours enjoying the heat and distracting myself from the frustrations. There’s so much to do… I have learnt by now that big things get smaller by chipping away, but for today I retreated a little in contemplation of the size of it.
You learn an instrument by playing scales regularly. You solve a mountain of stuff by doing little things often. I’ve been effective this month. Time to switch back.