The Piano vs The Guitar

I was supposed to write a blog post each day in January. Well, here we are on January 4th and this is the first one. So there's that.

During the pandemic I decided I was going to learn the piano. My parents were considering throwing away my sister's old Yamaha keyboard in mid 2020 and I thought "Why the hell not", and dragged it to my San Francisco appt, along with a couple piano books marketed for children ages 10 and up. It has now been almost 2.5 years since then and while I have not come close to breaching the 'beginner' level, I have learned enough piano to play through two books.

An important note is that this isn't my first musical endeavor. I've played guitar for the greater part of 15 years at this point. Starting with 2 years of lessons in 4th grade, guitar class in school from grades 7-9 (I am deeply sorry for my behavior, Dr. Tree), and beyond that mostly self-taught noodling. In Chico, where I attended college, my roommate and several of my friends were in the Recording Arts program, where I picked up music knowledge more broadly to the point of making a VST plugin as my senior project. However, I've been monoinstrumental generally. Guitar (and to a lesser extend the bass) have been my poison.

Someones you forget what learning something new feels like. In this case 'new' isn't something completely foreign, but pretty far from other things I've picked up recently. There is a certain, hard to explain 'brain tingle' I feel is universally shared when a new concept and movement 'clicks' into place. This is a feeling I've almost forgotten until I was able to go through two octaves of the C scale on the piano seamlessly, to finish the first Alfred piano 10 and up book and get halfway through the second. To play the first page of the first movement of Moonlight Sonata. It feels...good. Refreshing. Like my mind drank a Coke Zero.

As a closing note, I always thought I was too dumb or was 'missing' something to really understand music theory. On guitar everything seemed...arbitrary. There was no rhyme or reason, it was a pure memorization exercise that I couldn't really pickup on. This almost completely changed when I started playing the piano. The piano is laid out in a logical fashion. Understanding what a major chord was not by memorizing it's shape, but by truly seeing that a chord is the first, third, and fifth notes in a scale. I self discovered the D and E chords after learning their scales. There was no furious Googling for where I should place my fingers, as there was for guitar. It just made sense.

I have played guitar for most of my life, very casually. I always thought it was 'my' instrument. I've build a guitar from scratch, I've swapped out pickups, I've replace a fretboard with a mirror. However, guitar might not be my true instrument. It might be piano.

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