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Her Lovely Awkward Synth
Dreamed 2009/3/9 by Wayan; Dreamverse #43
I'm in Yoshi's, a big jazz club on the Oakland waterfront. Samora and Elena Pinderhughes, brother and sister child prodigies, are playing tonight. Jaz Sawyer's on drums, Marcus Shelby on bass, Geechee Taylor on trumpet. Elena sings as well as plays flute--a surprise, a pleasant one.
They've got a full house, 300 or so. And they're selling CDs. Of course, they have parents who support them, friends, a community, and a public school well known for its strong music program. Not to detract from their talent, but getting it out there... well, Malcolm Gladwell (Outliers) is right. Success takes more than talent and 10,000 hours of practice: it takes mentors and community support.
Elena shows me her studio. "Flute no more!
I'm a singer-songwriter now." She composes on
a keyboard rich and strange. Glossy chopsticks fan
in irregular scallop scoops. The board's one broad
rainbow-smear. How dumb! Each octave ought to be
a recurring color-set.
Takes a keen eye to play. The bass is rose and blood,
salmon and orange--heavenly by day, but hell to tell
apart in stage-glare or dim club-light! The reds all fuse,
and yellows age to dirty white, and the blues bruise
to slate. The keyboard ignores speed & pressure too;
a flat blat's all you get.
And these cute keys are random widths--some so lean
that even a prodigy girl can't hit them clean!
Who built this gorgeous torture rack, a gamer,
sculptor, adman, madman? Says Elena:
"I love music, I practice, but haven't progressed.
Is it my synth?" I yell "Duh! Yes!"
Her brother has an acoustic grand, but she
felt it was too big for her yet. Absurd! I guess
it takes an outside observer to see
that not just original loveliness,
but full-size, responsive, regular keys
are the keys to success.
- Elena the piano-based singer-songwriter: Duh! Me. But I'm starting way later in life, with no such support. So I think she's who I might be now if I'd had that head start. And who I could be, if I get serious about addressing those lacks.
- Weird little Casio: for 15 years I played a Casio CZ-101--a powerful synthesizer, but its keys were smaller-than-standard, touch-insensitive, and worst of all, hair-trigger! Years later, I still fear to rest my hands on the keyboard and misjudge large intervals. I'm not just learning piano; I'm unlearning toy!
- Elena blames herself: I blame my slow progress on laziness and lack of talent. The dream points out a third factor: years of mistraining, from my old synth. And a fourth: "equipment" in the broader sense. In concert, both Pinderhughes credited their teachers and mentors and support from family, school, community. I lack all that.
- Rainbow colors: from a painting I'm working on, telling a dream, Acorn and Pelt. "Seek right tools/support" applies to all the arts--and more.
- Similar reds hard to distinguish in concert: in a book I'm reading, Cats Have No Lord, the city guard has scarlet cloaks and headbands; mercenaries wear blood-red. The two hues seemed too close for comfort in the haste of battle!
- Patience! As I practice on my current piano, remember I'm unlearning, not just learning.
- Face it--I'm not lazy, I'm working in isolation, and I have to learn more than music--I'm from a family with no entrepreneurial or promotional skills or history. So learn what I need and start looking.
- Paint the dream, paint it big, and hang it above my synth to remind me!
(Okay, I just did that...)
- This is Dreamverse #43. The Dreamverse Project is a cycle of short illustrated dream-poems; originally one a day, but now more like one a week. But still coming! Until I've put in my 10,000 hours...
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