Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Sundial Dreams

I suppose that if I were to have my wish to be reincarnated with a different set of capabilities, one of the alternate lives I would have on my short list would be that of a Really Talented Musician. I have loved music since I was a child, and have any number of musical heroes, from Andres Segovia to Bob Dylan to (Hawaiian slack-key guitarist) Keola Beamer to Richard Thompson to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

In this lifetime, I've tried my hand at any number of instruments, including, let's see: the drums (age 8), the recorder (11), the guitar (16, of course), the harmonica (20), the bamboo flute (22), and most recently, the piano (57). The one one common thread running through all these experiences is my more or less complete lack of musical ability. I don't pick things up quickly. It takes me forever to learn to play a chord progression competently, and then if I don't play it for a week it's gone. It's been a test of my patience, and and even greater test of the patience of my wife and kids, who have had to listen to me misplay one instrument after another for years and years. I stayed longest with the guitar, playing for close to 40 years withoug developing anything like competency. When in my late 50's I began having trouble with my shoulder that was aggravated by guitar playing, I had to give that up, so I began taking piano lessons. The first few months went well; I had learned enough about music to figure out the easy stuff, and I have a teacher who is very patient and encouraging (most of her students are elementary school kids), but the longer I've stayed with it the more I've wished that things musical came a little bit more easily to me.

While I was getting therapy for my shoulder, during the time just after I had to give up guitar and just before I began playing piano, I had a few sessions with a masseuse who had a New Age music CD on in the background with a piano player I decided I liked. He's schmaltzy and sentimental and he's heavy on the strings and soft focus photographs, but he's also really melodic and I like the way many of his songs convey something like joy. I checked out the CD and found that the player's name was Kevin Kern. I was able to download some of his songs from the Apple Store. Since during the time I my shoulder was bothering me I couldn't do much else in the way of exercise, I started a walkng routine and I loaded my favorite Kern songs onto my iPod and listened to them each day while I was out.

Then, I discovered that Kern has his own website, and that he had published the sheet music for at least some of his songs in the form of a book, so I sent off for it and chose one song to work on, a song called "Sundial Dreams". That was two and a half years ago, and tonight as I was practicing that song for perhaps the 5000th time I still found myself sliding in and out of rhythm with it. But it's coming. Another two and a half years and I think I'll just about have it.

Tonight, on a hunch, I thought I'd check out YouTube and sure enough, there are several videos of Kevin Kern, including one where he is playing the song I'm almost able to play, sometimes, almost all the way through once without screwing it up too badly. So, by way of introduction if you've never heard of him, is Kevin Kern:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi, I also play the piano and like Kevin Kern's "Sundial Dreams".
You may wish to check out another nice piano piece "Kiss The Rain" by Yiruma.