I took piano lessons each week for about 8 years of my life. 8 years of piano. 8 years of recitals. 8 years of 30-min to 1hr of practicing a day. 8 years of counting down the time left in each practice session until I could go play outside. 8 wonderful years.
Piano is supposed to be beneficial for children because it teaches you to read music, to get that “ear”, and is even shown to help in mathematics skills. Well, I seem to have missed the math memo, considering this biochemist loves her calculator, but I cansit down, read music and play most things. Although I am not a pianist currently, I could pick it up again, and feel truly blessed to have this musical history. I also played the trumpet, but we will save that story for another time.
Even as delightful as the piano sounds, I always found piano lessons and practicing quite difficult. I went through a myriad of teachers throughout my childhood.
It started with Mrs. Smith, the church pianist, and she had an overweight miniature Collie. She was sweet, but I always thought my mom could do a better job. The candy after the lessons helped motivate me to return. My mom and sister are both beautifully accomplished concert pianist, and most of my childhood memories have a “soundtrack” to them, as Chopin, Rachmaninoff, or Beethoven play in the background. I moved on to Mrs. Boyd, a beatiful little person, with a fine ear, and a mean streak with a baton. If I hit the wrong note, or if my hands didn’t appear to have a tennis ball under them, perfectly arched, I got a stinging slap on the wrist with the baton. Yet when things were going well, the baton would keep time magically in the air and float along to the music. I liked Mrs. Boyd, she scared me a little, but I mostly liked her Himalyan cat, Peaches. The final teacher was Mr. Hampton, he lived in a dark house full of ornate decor, fake plants, and a Airedale Terrier named Geoff. Yes, I was corrected. It was Geoff, not Jeff, and I think they were best friends. He was strict, maybe a little harsh, and my charming personality was never able to break his dark exterior shell.
As I grew up, I began focusing on other things. Needless to say, tennis became a passion of mine, and the piano lessons faded into the past. However, I can still remember the hours of practicing and the hours of lessons. I remember fine tuning the songs until you accomplished the piece. Memorizing every note, adding emotion, crescendos, until it was your piece. You owned it, you performed it, and you could take pride in it.
Why the story about piano teacher, their pets, and their idiosyncrasies? Because I have started doing these roller sessions with Charlie to work on my pedalling efficiency. I am on the rollers for 30 minutes as he helps break down my pedal stroke into manageable portions to increase my cycling economy.
More economy= Greater Efficiency + Faster
That is an equation I can handle. The more economical I can become, the more power I can put out with less energy. However, with Charlie hovering over my pedalling, I felt like I was 8 years old again taking piano lessons. My “bad habits” were under a microscope. I was no longer allowed to get away with heavy quads, and a lazy hamstring. I was forced to focus, to feel, and to perform. I noticed that I was under the same pressure of a piano lesson when I started counting down the time from 30 minutes. 13 more minutes to go. 12 min. Focus, Alison, focus on your pedalling. It was excellent. I was sweating with the intensity of the focus, not the effort. The difference between the piano and the rollers is that whe I let my mind wander, I started falling off the rollers. If only my piano teachers had figured out a way to tell when my mind was wandering during the lessons. We had been on for 30 minutes, now 33, 34…
Charlie casually asked, how long has it been?
I say sharply, 35 minutes!
All right, Al, good work, your done.
Bingo. I bolt off the rollers just as fast as running from the piano bench.
I don’t know which is more comfortable, a wooden piano bench or a saddle? Hm.
Ah. Time to focus on the efficiency and the strength. Add the 30 minutes of roller work after my strength training… I think I am back to practicing the piano.