PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
I recently celebrated a birthday and was given the most amazing gift from my husband and my children: a Yamaha electronic piano. There is a backstory to this. I have played the piano for most of my life. Not consistently and not brilliantly, but enough to knock out a tune and, when I ‘refreshed’ my playing with serious lessons some years ago from the late and missed Harry Fulcher in Devon, and even more serious practice, I got back to playing to a reasonable standard. I wasn’t performing Liszt or Rachmaninoff, but Debussy and Nino Rota were definitely back on my play list. Then, in a house move to a smaller pad, I had to part with my baby grand. It was a painful experience.
Happily, another house move means a lot more space ergo the most genuinely moving gift I have ever received. And with it comes a kind of artistic responsibility. No point in me stumbling through a melody when so much has been spent on me even if Yamaha gives any pianist a head start. The tone is of exceptional quality and the weight given to the keys means that even a beginner is going to sound competent. (Fortunately, three and a half years of silence didn’t prevent me from an on the spot, passable rendition of one of Beethoven’s easier pieces, thank goodness.) So I’ve set myself a target to play each day, in short bursts, and master, through solid practice, the pieces that really float my boat. It occurs to me that this is not too dissimilar to the process of writing both for those who have yet to be published and those who already are. It takes practice and time to ‘find your own voice’ and style. It requires work to master pace and tension and create credible characters. It also takes a bit of ‘brushing up’ when you haven’t written for a while, either because you’re busy promoting a previous book, life intervenes, or you’ve take a break for research or leisure. It can almost seem daunting to start over again however good the preparation and the fact that you have the story buttoned down in your mind. But, a little like picking up from where you last left off, it soon comes back, and when it does, it’s sublime.