fingers tip-toe across piano keys stepping outside comfort zone with parkison's

Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

Posy wonders if the only way to live meaningfully is to keep challenging herself. She has been "working" very hard for a couple of months. She has conducted concerts, taken many rehearsals and played a lot of piano!

Recently, Posy faced an event that made her the most anxious. On the face of it, it would seem fairly innocuous. Posy and another musician staged a charity soirée in a beautiful old home.

The evening went extremely well and raised money for the church. The lovely lady who owned the home was delighted. The piano had been her husband’s pride and joy and one of his favorite pieces was Liszt’s third Concert Étude in D flat major, known as "Un Sospiro."

Blaming the tools

Posy had tried out the piano beforehand, so she was aware of its many limitations, but was hoping that the piano tuner might be able to rectify them before the concert. The tuner did not have the time to recondition a whole grand piano in time and consequently defied Posy to play such a piece on the "historic" piano.

He explained that the pins had slipped badly, causing all kinds of technical problems. However, by then it was too late. The lady owner was so excited. Her family were hosting the event. The concert had been set up.

Realizing her limits

With regular pill taking, and dealing with the Parkinson's off-times in between, Posy knew that 40 minutes of this level of playing was enough. The program of music saw Posy on the piano for the whole time, either accompanying the violinist and singer, or playing solo. The length of the recital was as long as Posy could comfortably manage.

The challenges

It was all a challenge. Posy was on the go round the clock with rehearsals, practice and study, not to mention the build-up and nerves! On top of that, she had challenged herself to learn this new concert solo from scratch.

She could have played safe by performing something already in her repertoire, but she was aware of the Parkinson's disease clock ticking away inside her brain. Maybe this would be her final chance to rely on her skills, not only to learn to play this fairly difficult piece, but also to memorize it in time!

On top of that, Posy would have to cope with a difficult instrument. The slipped pins were so bad that the tuner was not able to raise it to concert pitch. The soft pedal did not work. The sustaining pedal was too enthusiastic and sustained beyond the moment when it should have stopped, causing a muddy sound. When depressed, various keys were staying down ... in other words, once played, they did not spring back up!

This made it almost impossible to play fluently, in particular during the fast runs. On top of that, England was enjoying an incredible 104 degrees, and there was no air-conditioning!

Rising to the occasion

Posy challenged herself once more (as she always does). Although she was aware of the drawbacks, she felt honor-bound to perform nonetheless. She would like to have had better conditions, but in spite of being startled by the sticking keys (and constantly pulling them up with a spare finger!) she managed to keep going.

Now, she is trying to convince herself that even the great Lang-Lang would have found these conditions a challenge! Posy has always taken musical risks, and has made a career out of learning pieces at short notice. This will one day end, but for now Posy will take her chances.

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