Posts tagged piano
My 2013 fall break might be best described as “surreal.”
Surprisingly, that’s not (entirely) because I can’t believe that it was my last, but rather because of the freakishly summery weather that accompanied said “fall” break. With this past weekend’s temps hitting the mid-70s, I actually think it was warmer in Ithaca than back home in Volcano: and it’s October!
Since going home for a four day weekend is always out of the question for me, though, I did appreciate the balminess: it gave me a few beautiful days to visit some of Ithaca’s most autumnal attractions. Catching some quick glimpses of fall colors helped me forget that I was stuck in the middle of the summer that wouldn’t die (even as I overheated in my jacket and riding boots).
Before I graduate, I intend to visit every easily accessible waterfall in Ithaca. I’ve already crossed Taughannock off that list, so the logical next step was Robert Treman Park.
(Luckily enough, Treman is a state park, or I wouldn’t have had much of an adventure at all. Thanks a lot, government shutdown. )
Treman Park is home to Lucifer Falls, a waterfall that drops from a height of more one hundred feet above the gorge. During my visit, I naturally couldn’t get Pink Floyd’s Lucifer Sam out of my head, but in retrospect, I’m finding Chopin’s Nocturne in C Minor a little more fitting. Don’t the trills and triads remind you of a multi-tiered waterfall?
(Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 is also a pretty nice Lucifer Falls piece.)
What makes the water here such a deep teal? The river inside the gorge was the same color as the rushing currents of Fingal’s Cave on the Isle of Staffa. I guess I really can’t leave Scotland behind, no matter where I am.
The walk from the park’s upper entrance to the falls and back was a little under a mile, I’d wager–but the frequent sets of steep stairs made the journey a bit more challenging.
The sequel to our falls adventure began with (second) breakfast at Waffle Frolic in. If you haven’t visited the Commons in a while (like me!), you’re in for a surprise–most of it is under construction.
Because this is Ithaca, though, the barriers around the construction have been transformed into a massive public art project, and its many murals include the charmingly rustic map of Middle-Earth we found across the street from the Seneca bus stop.
After an ample amount of both waffles and frolicking, we headed down Rt. 13 to the Ithaca Sound Maze, a corn maze stocked with a good handful of homemade instruments for visitors to play.
Since I’ve never visited a corn maze before (a pineapple maze is the best we can do in Hawai’i), I didn’t expect to be so excited by the novelty of wandering around and getting lost in a homegrown labyrinth. It was hard to not follow the example of the toddlers who ran frantically around each bend, laughing and leaving their slow parents to get lost somewhere among the ears.
The curious instruments, however, are what really make the Sound Maze an utterly fantastic day out. There are pots tuned to major triads to bang on, giant plastic buckets stacked together to form a wall of drums, and strange musical contraptions built out of bicycle wheels and a rainbow plastic tubes: all in all, definitely worth more than the $5 entrance fee.
Maybe I can satisfy my music-loving heart by opening my own maze somewhere across the country after I graduate?
(But a maze themed around vocalization instead of physical instruments, perhaps? So many possibilities!)
At my high school, music practice rooms were a big deal. If you had a half an hour off from classes and wanted to make sure you didn’t forget that Shostakovich, you had to sign in, swear that you were truly using the space for practice and not for other nefarious purposes, grab a key from the receptionist, run upstairs, open the door, and, finally, turn your backpack into a makeshift doorstop so you wouldn’t get locked out as you dashed back down the steps to return the key. Punahou practicers were also often rudely interrupted in their exercises by music teachers, who always had the right to kick students out.
It should be no surprise, then, that I expected the Cornell practice room system to be similarly draconian.
The little orange posters placed around Lincoln Hall bulletin boards aren’t much help. Each states that a deposit and key is required for grand piano rooms, but neglect to describe the protocol for the rest. This (combined with that whole “starting college” thing) caused a terrible deterioration of my piano skills during my freshman year.
As a sage sophomore, I’m here to let all prospective-freshers know that practice rooms are open to anyone during Lincoln’s regular hours every day. Now, of course, there are a lot of Cornellians who already know this, so it’s always the case that they might be occupied–best to get there early if you want to reserve your spot!
Something else to keep in mind is that, despite claims to the contrary, there’s really no such thing as “sound-proof” here: I can always hear that Broadway tenor belting out his tunes next door when I’m playing Debussy. That said, the rooms are clean, well-lit places with beautiful upright pianos. I’ve even made a little video to demonstrate my particular favorite’s gorgeous tone. (Ten points to anyone who recognizes the song! Also, you should probably let this dude load before trying to play it. Trust me.)
To my equally old and wise readers: what would’ve been useful for you to know during your (presumably long gone) freshman year? Let me know in the comments!