(Photo Details: Cupcakes at my Uncle Jim's 80th birthday. Hopefully I'll be playing jazz piano at mine.)
Ok, I really am going to kick off the new series of then-and-now posts next, but I just had to share a current-day challenge of retirement while I’m experiencing it.
Last night, we went to a jazz concert at the wonderful new SF Jazz Center. We saw Hiromi. She is the most amazing jazz pianist. This is the fourth time I’ve seen her and I will never tire of seeing her live. I can’t think of any other word but amazing. How can I describe it? The whole concert I felt like I was going to explode. Because that’s exactly what she’s doing—exploding. I watched her hands dance across the keyboard, actually her whole body dances—she can’t even stay in her seat. There’s just too much energy coming out!
Before the concert, we attended a reception showcasing SF Jazz’s education programs for kids in public schools. The woman that runs the education program teaches jazz piano so I barraged her with questions about how they teach kids to improvise. She knew what I was really asking--it wasn’t really about the kids. It was about me. How will I ever get good? And of course she gave me the answer that I already knew: 10,000 hours. Practice.
So while I was watching Hiromi, I was doing a little math. If I practice one hour a day every single day, that’s 365 hours in a year. At that rate it would take me 27 years to get really great. Which is kind of what I was thinking when I took up piano in the first place. My dad took up trumpet a few years ago, which is what inspired me to get started now. My theory was that by the time I’m his age, I’ll be awesome. He’s 78, so that is precisely how the math would work out for me.
But while I was watching Hiromi, I kept thinking, I don’t want it to take 27 years! So then I started recalculating—how could I do it in 10 years? Ten thousand hours divided by 10 years—that’s almost three hours a day of practice. Sounds fine in theory, right? I am retired after all.
But then add in time for sleeping, eating, exercising, seeing friends, cleaning the house, gardening, volunteering—oh yeah, and writing blog posts, never mind a book—and you see my conundrum. Well I'm not sure those of you that are not yet retired see it. But back me up here retirees--do you actually have three hours a day to spare?
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