Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Spanish adventures are still ahead of piano adventures ;-P

So I today I just finished the 20-week Intermediate Spanish Storylearning course and absolutely loved it.  Was super-helpful.  There's not a lot of actually good material for intermediate speakers, so I really appreciated this one.  And there's enough there to make it worth revisiting more than once which is even better.  So yeah, pretty pleased about that.

I also have a new online Spanish teacher who I'm really enjoying working with.  He's the first one I've worked with from Spain (the others have all been in Central or South America) and so I'm enjoying learning about some of the cultural differences between Spain and Canada.  lol I told him about our unique system of measurements; apparently he shared it with his family and friends and the general consensus was that I must be making it up ;-P.    Similarly - how do you explain maple syrup to somebody who's never heard of it ("what's it for?"), and also - what are uniquely Canadian foods?  Cultures?  Experiences? It's surprisingly hard to answer these questions when A - your country is a blend of other cultures, and B - everything is "normal" to me, so I've no idea what is unique to others.  For instance, that public school is free attendance -- apparently there "everyone goes to school" but there is still a charge associated.

So I'm at that weird place on the intermediate plateau where sometimes I feel like I'm *finally* getting it and it's all easy, and sometimes I'm like wtf?!?!  How have I been studying this so long (albeit on and off) and still miss SO much :(.   Ugh.   Like, there's a YouTube channel I'm *really* enjoying and I can consistently understand the gist of what's being said, often the details.  But the lead speaks for a living.  Lol when he talks to friends or people on the street, only rarely can I understand the response.  Similarly, I watched a movie the other day and actually enjoyed it (light romcom type thing) - but I read the cc for prob 75% of it.  Plus side - I had zero issue following while reading in Spanish.  Down side, when not reading I couldn't really follow :(.   I'm going to watch it again now that I know the story and see if it's any easier the second time *g*.  It's also based on a book which is now on my kindle ;).   Other plus side, my recommendations in Spanish are getting far more accurate now so that's helpful.  When I started looking for stuff everything was drugs, war, or over the top drama - none of which appeal to me.  So kinda cool that I've watched enough now (even if only on YouTube) that the recommendations are improving :) 

Plus side - when I watched the trailer just now while looking for a pic, I could understand most ;).
So maybe rewatch is worth it.

Anyways - all that is why I'm super pleased both to have completed a course that seemed to be at *exactly* the right level and to have a new teacher who I'm enjoying working with and who has actual set lessons; many of mine recently have been just conversation practice, which in itself is super useful, but only if I'm actually getting corrections as well; if I had to guess, I'd say a number of online teachers only have beginners so comparatively I'm "doing well" lol but compared to real life, there's still a ways to go.  New teacher is doing a bit of a repeat of stuff I know, but he at least started with intermediate content and it's possible we'll fill in something I missed along the way, so I'm deeming the review worthwhile and excited to see where it ends up.

A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new

So the last song I worked on in my pianoing was my first "advanced" lol which I realise is nowhere near advanced by normal standards, but that's what the app calls it so why not.  It took me 6 weeks to learn 20 bars, and 90% of the left hand I'd learned in the intermediate version of the same song.  Multiple hours to get through single bars.  A, super painful.  B, sheer stubbornness got me through it.  C, I am fully aware even the "successful" version is atrocious, but technically I got through it hitting all the right notes ;).   There were two different pieces of notation I had to google what they meant.  And after all that, I realised I was definitely at the point where I needed help.  (Clip here for the brave or curious:

Accurate.  Except that I love my husband enough to wear headphones.

After the assessment and my free admission that I can't effectively read bass clef yet, and my theory is minimal, we're starting with the "level 2" book.  lol level 2 is super basic from both a playing and theory standpoint, but it that means it gives a chance to catch up on any/all basics that I missed.   Top of that list: how I hold my hands.   He corrected it in the first lesson, but I didn't really get it.   In the second lesson the light started flickering a little more and while it will undoubtably take me forever to fix, ("shorten your reins" anyone?), at least conceptually I get it.

My teacher is an older gentleman w a reasonably strong accent - my guess would be Eastern European or German? Idk - I’m really bad w accents lol. The ESL factor makes explanations a little iffy and I’m definitely an overgrown toddler in needing to understand “why” ;).  My favourite was being told:  “You must rest!” Hmmmm I feel like I might’ve heard that before ;). In this case, when I'm sight reading music I have a tendency to just ignore any form of rests ;-P

Re the whole hand position thing - I have to acknowledge that once the light started flickering, both the YouTube teachers whose videos I've been learning from have mentioned the same, but sometimes you need someone in person to actually show you how what you're doing isn't what you *think* you're doing...  (I swear the advent of cell-phone video cameras made teaching riding *so* much easier when I could show people that what they *felt* they were doing and what they were actually doing might not be exactly the same ;). AND, importantly, how to fix it.

So today I revisited my nightmare song with new learning in place.  One bar.  About an hour.  Slowed down to about 25%.  But I got it ;). And after I got it, I could speed it back up.  And eventually - was significant improvement over what I'd had before.  In an hour.  So I'm deeming that one a win and am actually fairly excited about it :)

A meh first world problem's kinda day

So a friend posted something about her "silent book club" she is in Australia so definitely too far away but I messaged her just saying it sounded awesome.  She tells me it's international and check out if there might be one near me.  Two Toronto-ish but nothing in Niagara.  Clicked the "start your own" (cause - well, you're not new here) to see what it's about.  "All you need is a friend, a cafe, and a book" - I was pretty thoroughly depressed when I realized I only have one of those close enough to connect with on a weekly basis living this side of the bridge :( 

A "start your own" example from the other day that might make those who know me laugh (or roll their eyes).  C and I were chatting about some of the challenges in our educational system, and differences from other systems around the world.   If we had kids, I'm not convinced I'd want them going through that program.  There are a lot of positives (and negatives) to home schooling, but I know myself well enough to know there's no way that would be an acceptable answer ;-P.  I would lose my little brain.  So what's the solution?   Clearly, I'd need to open my own school.  Lol this is exactly where my mind went, dove right into the practicalities of what would I need to do to set up an appropriate curriculum that would make use of modern learning theories while still enable grads to qualify for and succeed at university.   How and where would I find qualified teachers and what would make this school an environment they'd want to teach in?   Could a school of that sort even survive, esp where we live now?  What are the requirements to open a school?  lol just to be clear, I have ZERO intention of doing this - and even less intention of having children that would require me to do it ;-P.  Just amused me that that's where my mind went for how to solution this.  

Under the trying to meet people concept - it is remarkably hard to find adult lessons in anything out here.  Have tried: indoor rock climbing (not even a wall for casual, much less lessons), circus school (that one I found and it was a blast, but it wasn't working with my schedule and I was super frustrated that I couldn't practice in-between so progress was painful), indoor skydiving (this exists here, but tourists only.  Nothing for even a regular pass), revisiting skiing (uh, Niagara is flat, and xc is only fun on horseback), ballroom dancing (a slightly intoxicated C actually agreed to this?!?!) - yup, found exactly one place and they're taking the semester off, skating (adult lessons "cancelled this semester" - also adult is defined as over 13 there - I only thought of this one today though, so may do more digging), volunteering -- one failed, but the other is actually starting.  Win.  Except it's teens, so while it's a good thing to do and gets me out of the house, it's not good for meeting new adult friends.  And of course my lifetime default of riding -- there's very little of it in any form I'd enjoy participating in here :(   Super frustrating.   I *did* eventually find music lessons (win!), but that's 1-1 so again less good on the whole meeting people concept.   And I really enjoy our gym trainer, but again - it's just us.   

Anyways - definitely first world whininess.  Probably brought on by insane work - which should hopefully calm down after this week.   And maybe then I'll find something fun to do that actually involves other people.