When I was a teenager I thought like a teenager, and so my piano teachers selected my pieces for me. Left to my own devices, I would have only played Bach and Debussy, and never very well. My repertoire would have consisted of technical pieces played with no emotion or dramatic pieces that seeped of "woes is me, nobody understands."
Fortunately, my teachers knew that and were more committed than me to the piano becoming a life-long companion of mine, ready and able to help me further express and make sense of whatever was going on in my life/head at various times.
After a fifteen year period without a piano in my life, I was finally able to purchase one a couple of months ago. It's acquisition is a story that delights me to no end, but that's for another day. It's been fulfilling to introduce my now family to the sounds and mistakes that were pounded into the ears of my original family members. And it has been extremely satisfying to find that the technique which was lying dormant for so many years is still there. For the first few weeks, every sit down at the bench was a practice in remembering. But now, with the exception of a few fingering patterns I've yet to nail, it's all back.
And I'm venturing out to select new pieces on my own. I've never really done that before. There's no one around to play the first few measures for me, so I fumble my way through, trying to decide if the particular piece is something I want to devote hours to mastering. But for any number of reasons, one being my limited time at the bench before someone under 3 feet tall is calling me away or wanting my attention, I usually choose to go back to the old pieces. It has become interesting to note which ones I choose to play. Unless there is a spoken request-- Olivia's current favorite is Scott Joplin's Cascades, which she insists on calling Cattails-- I select pieces that reflect my general state-of-being at that moment in time.
And so this past week the piece that I've found to best express my most frequent mode or tempo is Haydn's Sonata in D Major. Specifically the first movement.
In the mornings, if I awaken before everyone else, there is silence, a blank sheet of composition paper. If there are any notes on my page they are in the tempo of those found in the piece's second movement, Largo e sostenuto. I will be intentionally slow for as long as I'm allowed because as soon as Olivia bursts onto the scene, there's no ritardando, no diminuendo. She's allegro con brio from the get go. 6 requests, 5 questions, 4 observations, 3 songs, 2 activities, all occurring in 1 tempo. My largo e sostenuto has a choice to make. I can squelch her and insist on my pace, or I can join in, skip in, hop in, spin in. It might take a cup of coffee, or three, but I eventually acknowledge that there's only one way to go. For these particular days, while the opportunity still presents itself, we'll play together, allegro con brio.