I’m not dead. Just took a couple weeks off of writing anything. I’ll spare you the litany of excuses. That’s not why you’re here. But I’ll let you know what I’ve been doing to get you up to speed before I return to celebrity bashing and book reports on science news.
A lot has been going on lately, professionally and personally. I’ve been struggling to get my lectures together for the spring semester. It’s all new stuff that I’ve never taught before so my self-doubt has turned into wicked procrastination. I’ve finally turned a corner on it though and I should be able to meet my printing deadline. It’s ridiculous that I have to have all of my lecture materials prepared months before I’m going to give them, just so they can make a billion copies for the students. Where’s the spontaneity and energy in something that overly prepared? Anyway, what I’m teaching is the neuroanatomy component of the dental gross anatomy course (The image at right is from Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy, 11th edition, Agur and Dalley editors, LWW* citation added 3-18-2011). I’m pretty psyched about the subject. The muscles and bones of the body are interesting, but the nervous system is how it all actually works so you can go a lot deeper into the meaning of the anatomy. I think it will be alright if I can just strap myself down to my desk and finish this shit.
I started piano lessons again. It’s been almost ten years since I last took lessons at Concordia. It’s fantastic to be in it again. I’ve been playing quite a bit in the last ten years thanks to a very productive collaboration with a friend who is a great singer. We spent a few years making music together – stuff from all genres of the musical world, except gangsta rap and bluegrass. When she moved last year, that marked the unofficial end of my standing accompanying gig, so I thought that whenever I got my shit together, maybe I’d take lessons again and try to take myself to another level with the instrument. I never did actually get my metaphorical shit together, but J and I got a house and a pretty nice rhythm to our lives, so there suddenly seemed to be room for something else – something just for me.
It just so happened that J was working with a gal who teaches piano professionally (she works at the blood gardens in the mornings for extra cash). She was taking new students, J mentioned that I played and had been thinking about taking lessons again, next thing you know, I’m talking Bach with her over a pair of grand pianos in her home.
A big part of why I wanted to give this a try again was that I feel like I’ve changed so much in the last 8 years and I wanted to find out if I could approach the piano with a different perspective and be more successful with it. I think I’ve always had talent and a good musical ear, but problems in the motivation department. Part of me wondered if my growth and maturity as a scholar and teacher would make me a better student and a harder worker. Also, could my extreme knowledge of the musculoskeletal anatomy of the hands and the neurological pathways behind learning somehow help me think about the instrument and learning new music in a entirely different way? So far, I think the answer to all of the questions is yes. I’ve had more fun practicing the last few weeks than I think I’ve ever had preparing for lessons in years past. I don’t think I’ve been at it long enough to know if I’m actually getting way better or not, but in terms of sheer enjoyment, it’s a great success.
So that’s what’s new with me. Expect some excellent social commentary soon. I’m kind of over the whole election thing, so forgive me if I don’t weigh in on that one. Thanks for reading. Below is a quiz for all you pianists and anatomists out there. Which images represent which thumb movements – Abduction, Adduction, Flexion, Extension, Opposition? Which movements are used in the passing under of the thumb in scales and long passages?