Time travel a bit too far: warming up for my first piano recital, 1968.

A few weeks ago I was researching time travel. It’s a component of book number four in my “G” series (“G” standing for gods, particularly ones from Greek mythology). I learned about time machines, worm holes, life in the fourth dimension and a host of other things I rarely think about. And while I did settle on a scientifically possible explanation about how my time traveling character does what he does, I’ve recently realized that we all employ time travel in our daily lives.


Like seeing the world from the perspective of your inner fourteen-year-old?


Good observation, Lily. I’ll add it to the list. What I was thinking of initially, though, is how we make small adjustments to attain specific outcomes by speeding things up or putting them in reverse.


Is that why we’re practicing piano twice a day now, instead of just once?


Excellent, 9! If you follow this blog regularly you may recall that I launched a piano project in December 2020. My goal: to play through all the exercises in Book One of Hanon-Schaum for Piano. The book instructs the student to play the exercises daily. The first week, exercise No. 1 is played 5 times each day. The second week, exercise No. 2 is played 5 times each day and exercise No. 1 is played once. The practice advances in a cumulative fashion: we are now on exercise No. 22, five time/day, with numbers 21 through 1 played once per day.


No wonder it’s taking so long.


About twenty minutes per practice at this point, 9. Remember when you were taking piano lessons? How much did the teacher tell you to practice each day?


Uhm, half an hour.




You know we didn’t!


No, we didn’t, and it definitely showed. With Memorial Day weekend upon us I’m reliving the memory of that holiday weekend many years ago. I must have been about eleven. The annual piano recital was looming, only three weeks away, and I hadn’t memorized my piece (Mozart Sonata No. 16 C major). The teacher had one week before she had to send the program to the local newspaper, The Leader, for printing. This was how the world worked before the age of personal computers.


As usual, the family had a Memorial Day cruise planned. But the piano thing. Mom declared she would stay home with me while I practiced however many hours it took to memorize the Mozart.

That sounds like prison camp!

It felt like it, too, 9.


In the end, justice prevailed (if you believe Mom and the piano teacher were on the side of justice). I learned the darn thing, can still play the first few bars of it fifty years later it’s so deeply drilled into my memory.


So we incurred life-long trauma?


You could put it that way, Lily. I try to view it as we learned our lesson. Diligently preparing for performances has served me well ever since.


We’re not going to perform the Hanon exercises, though, are we?


I rejoice to say we are not. And here I’ll return to the topic of time travel. Several weeks ago I was planning a trip to Port Townsend. I’d booked the house and pet sitter the first time she was available that fell after my Living History performance date. This falls on the second week of June. I was delighted to book the trip, but there was one hitch. Following the regimen I’d established for my piano exercises, daily practices that I have not missed once since I started, my trip would take place two weeks before my piano project was done.


This freaked me out. Twenty-two weeks of dedication and I was going to fall off the edge of the project schedule two weeks before I was finished!


The solution was time travel. Starting May 20, I doubled my daily practices. I am now working on exercise No. 22. I’ll finish up on Saturday, June 5.


That’s not real time travel, though. June 5 will happen at the same time regardless of your piano practicing.


Thank you for your steely logic, Lily, but I will take a more nuanced view. Time on the piano project has accelerated. It will end on June 5 instead of June 17 as originally planned.

You’re making my head hurt.

Will our fingers hold up?


So far so good, 9.


I’m guessing a lot of people started projects when the pandemic restrictions were tighter and we all had fewer options about how to spend our time. Most people I’ve talked to recently are feeling a rush of energy, now that more events and opportunities are vying for our activity-starved attentions.


Life is suddenly crazy busy. This weekend I’m helping with a triathlon, next weekend I’m in a 1920s fashion show, after that we’re off to Port Townsend. When I get back, there’s the June 18 book signing at Book & Game and the Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival. Performances at the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center will be here before I know it, then there’s more travel and hopefully some committee work on a fun local event that’s starting up again after the 2020 pause. Who knows how many more fun opportunities will come up betwixt and between all of that?


Just thinking about it, I consider my current time traveling adventure with the piano project as time traveling well spent.


Wow, lots of time travel since I worked on exercise #7 in the Hanon!

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