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“It’s great to be able to do something just because you love it.”
After student Julie Bromley and her husband inherited a beautiful piano from a relative, she knew the moment had come. It was time for music again.
Julie took lessons from childhood throughout college. Later she worked at a church where she accompanied soloists, and took voice lessons for a dozen years.
But eventually her life and career took her in another direction; for a long while there were no lessons or practice.
Now retired- and with a Steinway studio piano in her living room- Julie has no excuses, and a lot of excitement about bringing music back into her life. She’s been taking lessons with Andrew Doney for the past year.
“I always thought that when I retired it would be fun [to take piano lessons], Julie says. “It’s just for me– I have no performance goals or anything. I just wanted to get back what I had lost from not playing for a while.”
Julie was kind enough to answer a few questions about her experience below.
Why choose in-home lessons over studio?
Primarily it was a convenience issue, and wanting to use the piano I have. I didn’t want to be running around to do it. I knew I would be more likely to stick to it if it was of ultimate convenience to me. Everything else I’m doing I have to go somewhere to do! (laughs)
What’s your favorite thing about lessons?
My early training lacked a number of things, so I’m working more on technique than I ever did before. [Andrew and I] have talked about getting into different kinds of music, some improvisation eventually, which is something I never learned how to do.
Thus far, I don’t feel like I’ve had to really start over, and yet I feel like I’m gaining skills that were not emphasized to me previously.
I’m working on music I’ve worked on before, yet it’s a completely different focus on how to excel.
What are you learning now?
All classical things. I’m classically trained and that’s still what my focus is and probably will remain.
It’s interesting because classical isn’t Andrew’s primary focus in his personal playing, but what he has to offer me still makes sense. He’s more jazz/improv. Since I told Abraham I would like to expand into more improvisation, Andrew is a good fit for me.
What’s your favorite thing to play so far?
I’m working on a Debussy Suite, and I’m working on some Bach just for the technique portion. I really like those two things. Debussy I’ve worked on before but never completed, so I’m enjoying digging into that further.
What’s challenging about taking music lessons as an adult?
We’re working on some rhythm patterns that I’ve never seen before in my life– polyrhythms. It’s a huge challenge right now, more technical. You don’t see it a lot in classical music.
It’s a real challenge, but I like that. I wanted to be challenged or I wouldn’t be getting anything out of lessons.
Do you think there are any special advantages to taking lessons at this stage in your life?
Oh, yeah! I wanted to get back to some kind of creative outlet in my retirement. I’m kind of going back to my roots, and I think that’s a good thing to do now that I have the time.
It’s great to be able to do something just because you love it.
My husband’s a potter, and he’s not focused on selling his work. He does some commission, but he does it because he loves it. I’ve always admired his ability to do that.
Before with music, I thought it was kind of a means to an end. I couldn’t just do it because I liked it. Now it’s just a wonderful thing to do; it fulfills a part of me that needs fulfilling.
Have your expectations for yourself or about lessons changed at all?
No. I knew what holes I needed to fill in my ability and I think they’re being filled.
Any advice for other adults considering lessons?
It’s kind of a personal thing. I think you have to be honest with yourself about your motivations and expectations. Just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean you’re not going to have to work at it. Maybe that’s more cautionary than encouraging (laughs)! But too often people think, I’ll do this and I’ll be great in a month.
I don’t practice as much as I should! The ideal of course is daily, but that’s the other difference when you’re an adult– there are a lot of other draws on your time. We travel often, so if I can get 3-4 days in the week when I can get an hour or two in, that’s a fabulous week!