Jumpin’ Jupiter!

With all the busyness of this past week, I didn’t get much time to work on Holst’s “Jupiter” until this morning. In fact, I’d stopped at a place in the music about a quarter of the way through the piece that looked almost impossible to play. Notes were grouped in pairs, triplets, and fours, and they switched between those groupings so fast that I couldn’t seem to get them under my hands. I’d think, “Oh, I get it!” only to lose it the next time I tried playing it. So I’d given up, a bit discouraged, and figured I’d plow ahead with smoke coming out of my ears and swearing like a pirate.

But this morning, I had about a half hour before the piano tuner came to work on one of the instruments, so I picked up the score and tried again. And it clicked! Everything suddenly resolved itself into something crystal clear. I saw the order in what had looked like chaos two days ago. Not only that, but when I put in my CD and played with it, I didn’t get lost, I didn’t fall behind even at the breakneck tempo they play it at, and, best of all, I was having a blast!

Jupiter is “the bringer of jollity,” and I was full of joy! I played with the CD two or three times, then couldn’t contain myself anymore, leaped off the piano bench, jumped up and down, and let out a whoop.

All the swirling and whirling of the beginning, all the crazy leaps and fast trills, all the changing between two’s and three’s and four’s, all the shifting from four beats per measure to three … I was doing it all. Yes!!!

I called my partner. She’d spooked me yesterday because she said she was playing it at about 120 beats per minute. I don’t know for sure because I don’t have a metronome, but I didn’t think I was even close to that! She said she couldn’t do it as fast as the CD, though, but I still didn’t feel any better. I felt like it’d be a miracle to get to a point where I didn’t sound like an idiot in rehearsals.

But I called her this morning, and our first rehearsal together is next Friday at eleven. After the tuner left, I learned more notes, so I’m now halfway through the piece, with a slower, easier section coming up which I plan to tackle tomorrow (no students, so no interruptions).

I always was fascinated by the planet Jupiter as a kid. I wondered what it’d be like to stand on a liquid planet, a gas giant, with more moons than we have months in our year. I wondered if a planet made of methane would smell like cow farts or swamp gas, and I wondered what that big storm in the center of the planet would sound like. How would it be to look up into a pink sky instead of a blue one, and what would the sun look like from that distance? Surely not like it does from here!

So now, to be playing “Jupiter” as the first planet of the set that I’ve done with another professional as opposed to a student is pretty cool.

I think that many challenges are like my dealings with the Jupiter dilemma. We spend so much energy trying to get everything in order and under control that we get ourselves tied up in knots and feeling discouraged. I think by taking those two days and not even playing the music or looking at the score or listening to the recording, I was allowing everything to settle and solidify. I didn’t consciously wonder if it would work when I tried it again, even as I was playing it the first time this morning. I just thought, “OK, let’s try this and see what happens.”

We can get knocked out by delight if we let things come to us instead of always chasing them. And for “the bringer of jollity,” I imagine that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be. Yes!!!!!

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