occupational hazards

Yesterday I was discussing with my professor the possibility of learning Ravel’s Alborada del Gracioso for an upcoming recording project. The conversation went something like this:

Me: So I thought that would be an appropriate piece for this project, but I know it’s brutal.
Professor: Hmm. Yes. You know… (significant look) you have to play glisses in thirds and fourths?
Me: Yes, I noticed that. How do you do that? Without getting blood on the keys? (a legitimate question)
Professor: Yes, heh heh. That can happen. (a pause in which he gives me time to come to terms with the fact that my cuticles will be bleeding on the keyboard and there’s not much I can do about it) Well, when I first learned it I ended up with blood blisters, which turned into calluses after a few weeks. Now that doesn’t happen because I learned how to play them properly.

Nobody tells you this when you start taking piano lessons. You think it’s going to be civilized. Classy. Nope – it’s totally metal.

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