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Monday, February 07, 2005

Hands and fingers

I am entranced by hands and fingers. It's been a fascination for my whole life, since I grew up taking piano with the Suzuki method. My teacher would play me something, I'd watch, and play it back. It wasn't until I was 14 or 15 that I learned how to read music. Everything was done by sight and memory.

I remember at Suzuki summer camp, watching Valerie Lloyd Watts perform on a grand piano in the middle of a stage where I'd eventually sit for lecture classes in college--the piano angled so the keys and her hands were visible to the audience. A blur, that's all her fingers were. It was visually spectacular, and I have trouble now listening to piano CDs without wanting to also watch what the hands are doing. As I got older, and better, I'd watch the fingers to see if I'd be able to play the pieces. Then I saw George Winston perform (best known for his Linus and Lucy), and gave up the idea that my fingers would ever be able to move like his.

Then I started playing the guitar, and started watching the guitarists when I'd go to shows. I watch my dad's hands to know what chords to play when we jam together. I'd watch Ani DiFranco's hands and just marvel at what she could make them do. The alt-country bands I'd see in Chicago, I'd watch them and think, "I could be in their band. Why don't they need another back-up guitarist who looks good in leather pants and can move through chords quickly?"

And now, I'm checking out what the drummers do. There was not nearly enough camera time spent on Paul McCartney's drummer during the Superbowl half-time show, but once, I noticed him doing the same drum pattern that I can play! Of course, the other shots of him showed moves I can't even dream about yet, but still. It gave me a small glimmer of hope for my rock-star drumming future that I already know how to do one key beat.

My own hands are . . . I don't know. The fingers aren't long like I'd always wanted them to be, but maybe I can't see them for what they really are. I can hit one above an octave, so maybe? The neck of my guitar fits in between my thumb and index finger, and my fingers can sense the strings below them, and the chords follow. (Bar chords--that's a whole nother story. My fingers don't like those.) But the callouses are coming back to my left fingers. I like their hard roughness. They make me feel like I've been doing enough, practicing enough.

My hands don't yet know quite how to hold the sticks. I remember my 5th grade band teacher showing the new drummers how to hold the sticks--jazz style? I don't know. Different from how I hold them, and I wonder which I should do. My hands don't yet have the physical memory of the sticks, but it will come with time. And I can't wait!


Blogger Lauren said...

Holding your sticks is easy. Just grab it like your are going to shake its hand. Also, the grip should be tighter on your pointer fingers and get less as it goes down to your pinky. Its a wrist and finger movement when you play. You might already know that but I just wanted to help.

5:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey le got your card. Liss

11:37 AM  
Blogger tish said...

I took Violin through the Suzuki method!

3:11 PM  

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