Thursday, 3 May 2012

Music theory and baby brain

The two terms just don't go together brilliantly in my opinion. When we moved to London, I had mentioned casually to Seth that I would quite like to take up piano lessons again. I've played the piano since I was about 7 years old and had lessons until I was 11. Then I quit because I didn't enjoy the lessons anymore. I still continued to play and I still love playing the piano. I also really enjoy composing and arranging music and I have worked on many choral pieces with Sue Kureczko, who I got to know through our church when we lived in Lancaster (if you're interested in any choir music have a look at her website, But looking back, I really wish that I hadn't quit piano lessons and that I'd kept on going. If I had done that though, would I still enjoy playing as much as I do now? I don't know.

A couple of months ago, I decided that I would actually do something about wanting to play the piano again. The college where I work has an amazing music department, so I emailed one of the administrators there to see if they could recommend anyone who would be willing to give piano lessons. They recommended Coady Green, who lectures in piano performance at the college and who is also doing a PhD here too. I was really thrilled when he said that he would be willing to give me lessons. A couple of months on.....

I am making really good progress and Coady is an amazing teacher. I am aiming to take my grade 8 piano exam in December. The only problem with this is you can't take the grade 8 piano exam without taking the grade 5 theory exam first. While I love playing the piano, I hate the theory side of it. When I started to have lessons again, I barely even remembered the names of the notes such as crochets, minims, etc. and now I am having to learn much harder stuff. The exam is on 16th June so I really don't have that long to learn it all! Bearing in mind that when I stopped having lessons, I had only taken my grade 2 piano exam had practically no knowledge of music theory, this is a bit of a baptism by fire and there doesn't really seem to be enough time to do it all in! Then to add to all of that is of course, baby brain, or preghead, as I've also heard before. This occurs when you're pregnant and your brain basically turns to mush. An example of this is that Seth will respond to a question which I have obviously asked, but for the life of me I will not know what it was that I just said to him. It also takes me longer to process things, to do things correctly and to remember things. I'm sure it doesn't affect all pregnant women, just as morning sickness doesnt, but it definitely affects me! In fact, when it first started happening to me, I thought that I might be pregnant (even though it was just a passing thought and I didn't REALLY think I was pregnant until a took a test. Or two). Needless to say, I am finding it a big challenge to get my baby brain into gear and into learning mode. On some days I just want to give up because it seems like it's just too much effort and too difficult. Then at other times I think that I have a great opportunity to do this now and so I should take it. And so that's what I am doing, along with crossing my fingers that I will pass the exam. Wish me luck!

This is me playing the piano at Lyme Park (Pemberley, Mr Darcy's house in the BBC version of "Pride and Prejudice") a couple
of years ago)


  1. Know the baby brain feeling! I was in the middle of a telling a story, when I stopped and had to ask the person what it was I was saying because I had no clue! Tis a bit scary and wasn't too helpful for finishing off my dissertation! Good luck with the piano exam!! You brave woman!! x

  2. Thanks Beth! And congratulations by the way, very exciting stuff! :) xx

  3. I have every confidence in you, Kirst! And now Seth's exams are over you can spend evenings cosying up with a music theory book between you and he can test you!