Last Christmas, my sister Margo and I read through a few Christmas carol arrangements for two pianos and it was the greatest fun. Even though I stopped taking piano lessons eons ago and I consider myself a washed up pianist at best, I somehow was able to keep up with my sister who got a Bachelor’s degree in piano and has been a professional accompanist for years. Last year we just sightread the carols in front of our family on Christmas Eve—this year since I am staying with my sister, we decided we would practice first.
After the first night I arrived we decided which pieces would work for our little performance and the music went fairly well. We decided we would perform Carol of the Birds, Jesu joy of man’s desiring and our pièce de résistance, Sleigh Ride, for the family. Alas, I broke my wrist tripping over the treadmill in the middle of the night, and went to urgent care in the morning, coming home with a wrist splint. But I was bound and determined that the bulky splint and the moderate pain wouldn’t get in my way.
The following day, the pain had subsided and I wanted to give it a go. After a few initial attempts, I figured I could use four fingers but not my thumb. Hey, it sounds like fingering early music! In case you don’t know, the scholarship shows keyboardists back then only used their thumbs and pinkies sparingly, and organists didn’t use finger substitution as much as we do now. Our first practice session went okay, but we decided to switch parts in certain sections so that I wouldn’t have so much passage work for my left hand. As it turned out, I only felt comfortable using my middle three fingers: a BIG disadvantage compared to using all five fingers on both hands.
W-e-l-l… Our Christmas Eve performance was less than stellar, although my son said he couldn’t hear any mistakes. Neither could any of the rest of the family. Still, as I get used to this new apparatus on my wrist, we are going to continue practicing during my visit so we can record our sessions.