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活到老學到老 什么時候學樂器都不算晚

Why it's never too late to learn an instrument
活到老學到老 什么時候學樂器都不算晚

Is it ever too late to learn a musical instrument? According to the leading British concert pianist James Rhodes, the answer is an emphatic ‘no’ - and he has just written the book to prove it. The delightfully straight-talking How To Play the Piano is an elegant little volume that promises - with just 45 minutes’ practice a day, six days a week, for six weeks - to enable anyone with access to a keyboard to play one of JS Bach’s most beloved works, the Prelude no 1 in C major from Book One of The Well-Tempered Clavier.

長大成人后再學習樂器是否為時已晚?英國首席音樂會鋼琴家詹姆斯·羅茲(James Rhodes)的答案是"不晚"——他還剛剛寫了一本書證明這個觀點。這本書名為《如何彈鋼琴》(How To Play the Piano),它用輕松愉快、直抒胸臆的語言闡述了如何用小塊的時間掌握鋼琴這種看似復雜的樂器。他承諾,只要每天練習45分鐘,每周練習6天,連續6個星期,任何人都可以用鋼琴彈奏巴赫的名曲《十二平均律曲集》里的第一首C大調前奏曲。

The book, Rhodes reveals, came from an overwhelming response to his excoriating 2015 memoir Instrumental, which addressed his devastating mental breakdown and the critical role music played in his recovery and redemption. Following its publication, countless readers were moved to tell him they’d been inspired by his words to return to the piano themselves. “I lose track of how many people have said ‘Oh, I used to play when I was a kid, I wish I’d stuck it out,’” he tells me, mentioning one particular email that sparked the idea.

羅茲披露,他2015年出版的回憶錄《樂器》(Instrumental)曾經引發了巨大反響,而這本新書正為了回應讀者的熱烈反應。他在之前的那本書里提到了自己曾經遭遇精神崩潰,而音樂則在他恢復和救贖的過程中扮演了至關重要的角色。在該書出版后,有無數讀者告訴他,他們受到了這本書的啟發,決定重新彈奏鋼琴。"我已經記不清有多少人告訴我,'哦,我小時候也彈過鋼琴,真希望我能堅持到底。'"他還提到了那封直接給他這本新書帶來創作靈感的郵件。

成人仍然可以學習樂器

“I got a message from a retired Mexican professional airline pilot who said: ‘I used to play as a kid but I haven’t played for 50 years. I read Instrumental, I bought a piano, I got myself a piano teacher, now I practise every day. And I just want you to know: these are my best days.’ I found that so moving.”

"我收到了一位已經退休的墨西哥職業飛行員發來的郵件,他對我說:'我小時候曾經彈過鋼琴,但已經50年沒彈了。我讀了《樂器》,還買了一架鋼琴,給自己請了一位鋼琴老師,現在我每天都練習。我只想告訴您一件事情:這是我一生中最好的時光。'看到這番話,我很受觸動。"

Rhodes’ new book is the first in publisher Quercus Books’ Little Book of Life Skills series. It manages to tap into something pervasive, even romantic in the Western zeitgeist - becoming better, more skilled, more cultured and accomplished versions of ourselves - whilst never deviating from the integrity of a tradition that has remained essentially unchanged since humans first started making music on keyboards hundreds of years ago. “Learning a musical instrument can unlock the door to a new dimension that many of us have forgotten even exists,” Rhodes begins in his opening chapter, and there is no denying the immense appeal of laying aside technology to engage one’s fingers and brain and soul in a pursuit that has nothing to do with email, texting, or social media.

羅茲的新書是出版商Quercus Books的《生活技能小手冊》(Little Book of Life Skills)系列中的第一本。它挖掘了西方思潮中的一些流行甚至浪漫的元素——成為更好、掌握更多技能、更有文化修養的自己——同時還沒有偏離人類幾百年前第一次通過鍵盤演奏音樂以來始終未變的優良傳統。"學習一種樂器可以打開一個被很多人遺忘的新維度。"羅茲這本書的開篇寫道。在當下的環境中,能夠拋開科技的束縛,用手指、大腦和心靈去體味一項與電子郵件、短信或社交網絡毫無關系的愛好,無疑具備不可抗拒的吸引力。

His project offers perhaps the ultimate digital detox. Reading the book, I had fantasies of lighting a few candles of an evening, pouring a large glass of wine and getting stuck in to my piano practice: an alluring act of hygge, artistic self-improvement and self-care all in one. If you’d told me as a kid that I’d one day actually look forward to practising the piano, I would have laughed in disbelief. But in Rhodes’ witty, engaging, unpretentious hands, the prospect of daily piano-practice and its requirement of deep concentration becomes both meditation and medication.

他的項目或許扮演了數字時代"終極戒毒所"的角色??催@本書時,我就幻想著在夜間點幾盞蠟燭、倒一杯紅酒,然后專心享受練習鋼琴的快樂:這是一種誘人的感受,不僅能提升自己的藝術修養,還可以給心靈帶來慰藉。如果小時候有人告訴我,我有一天會渴望練習鋼琴,我肯定會滿懷不屑地嘲笑這種說法。但在羅茲詼諧、迷人、含蓄的文字里,每天練習鋼琴以及由此帶來的高度專注卻可以引導我陷入沉思,甚至成為治愈心靈的良藥。

“We live in an age of such instant gratification, we’re always looking outside of ourselves, and I think we’ve lost sight of just doing something quiet for ourselves,” he offers, when I suggest that the book is also a timely reflection of a modern Western aspiration not to material wealth but to spiritual and emotional enrichment, as seen in the proliferation of on- and offline adult skills courses such as those offered by Skillshare, Creative Live and The School of Life.

"我們生活在一個即時滿足的時代,我們總是向外看。我認為我們失去了安安靜靜為自己做點事情的能力。"他說。我認為,這本書還適時地反映了現代西方人的追求:不光看重物質財富,還重視豐富的精神和情感世界。這一點從Skillshare、Creative Live和The School of Life提供的各種線上和線下成人培訓課程中得到了充分印證。

“Not for the reward but just for the sheer loveliness of doing it. I think of playing the piano as a version of mindfulness - for which you don’t need a fleet of commando-style, shaven-haired monks, you just need a keyboard.” Besides, have we ever needed analogue escape routes more than now? Rhodes agrees. “All the news is bad, so why not just do something lovely for ourselves?”

"這么做不是為了獲得回報,純粹是因為發自內心的熱愛。在我看來,彈鋼琴就像念經修行——不必嚴守戒律,無需剃度出家,只要一架鋼琴即可。"除此之外,還有什么時候比現在更需要逃離現實呢?羅茲也同意這種觀點。"壞消息此起彼伏,既然如此,為什么不干脆做一些令人愉悅的事情呢?"

Ditch the scales

拋棄音階

Besides, learning - or re-learning - a skill such as playing the piano is proven to be good for our brains. According to research from the University of Texas, “mentally-challenging leisure activities” can re-wire our grey matter, restoring our brains to a more “youth-like” state. Rhodes is careful not to over-promise. “Look, this book won’t have you playing Rachmaninov or Chopin etudes. I was well aware that if you set out with a book about learning to play the piano and you say it takes 10,000 hours, nobody’s going to do it, because for whatever reason, good or bad, it has become hard to find time to simply focus and work on something for yourself. Time is such a precious commodity. But it will have you playing some Bach. And the Bach is still challenging, it will still push you, but it’s as accessible as possible.” He continues. “And six weeks is an outsize estimate: if you have time to practise more, or you played a lot as a kid, it will come back quicker. And it will give you a proper insight into the music. Maybe that in itself will be enough, or maybe you’ll enjoy it so much you’ll decide to get a teacher and learn other things.”

另外,學習——或重新學習——彈鋼琴這樣的技能也對大腦有好處。根據德克薩斯大學的一項研究,"挑戰心智的休閑活動"可以更新我們的大腦灰質,將其恢復到更加年輕的狀態。羅茲寫書時也很注重措辭,避免讓讀者產生過高的預期。"你瞧,這本書不會讓你彈拉赫曼尼諾夫或肖邦的曲子。我很清楚,如果拿起一本學鋼琴的書后卻發現需要花費1萬小時來練習,那就不會有人感興趣。因為無論出于什么原因,都很難抽出足夠的時間專心致志為自己做這件事情。時間很珍貴,但你仍可以彈奏一些巴赫的曲子。巴赫的曲子很有挑戰性,也仍會讓你感到挫敗,但已經盡可能做到'平易近人'了。"他接著說,"6個星期的預期其實已經很長了:如果你有時間多加練習,或者像孩子一樣多彈彈琴,速度還能更快。這樣做還能加深你對音樂的理解。這樣做本身或許已經足夠了,但你可能也會深迷其中,想要找個老師,然后學學其他東西。"

Central to his approach is the beauty of the actual music itself. “I’m a big fan of taking a piece that you want to play and finding a positive way to work at it, not through scales and etudes and exercises, but by simply playing it,” he explains. The book breaks down exactly how to practise in this way, including his genius fingerings, which staves off the potential boredom and frustration that would lead many of us to give up. I tell him I could never face doing scales and arpeggios as a child and I feel no differently about them as an adult.

音樂本身的美感正是這種方法的核心所在。"我比較推崇的方法是,找一首你想彈奏的曲子,然后找到積極的方式來演繹它,不要過分深究音階和練習曲以及練習方式,直接演奏即可。"他解釋道。這本書詳細闡述了如何通過這種方式練習鋼琴,例如,他開創的新穎指法練習方式巧妙地避開了可能令很多人中途放棄的無聊感和挫敗感。我對他說,我小時候始終不愿意面對音階和琶音,長大成人后同樣如此。

“Arpeggios and scales are never necessary!” he insists. “In any piece there will be technical challenges that you can work on using the music itself. I also loathe doing scales and arpeggios, but hey, I’m looking at this Mozart concerto that’s sitting on my piano right now, and it’s filled with scales and arpeggios. If you’re working on a piece and achieving something, it’s a great way to learn. Find a piece you love, and work on it through the music.”

"琶音和音階根本沒有必要!"他堅稱,"任何一支曲子都包含一些你可以用音樂本身來應對的技術挑戰。我也很討厭音階和琶音練習,但我現在正坐在鋼琴前練習莫扎特的一支協奏曲,里面充滿了音階和琶音。如果你正在練習一支曲子,并收獲了一些東西,那就是一種很好的學習方法。找到你喜歡的曲子,然后通過音樂來克服挑戰。"

Rhodes is evangelical about the joys of connecting or reconnecting with the piano, and beyond the book itself, his website has tutorials and videos dedicated to help you on your journey. The start of a new year, with all its attendant resolve, seems as good a time as any to take the plunge; our lives, after all, are not getting any longer. “Yeah. We’re not going to be lying on our death bed thinking, I wish I’d sent a few more emails and done a few more spreadsheets,” he jokes. “But you might well think: I wish I’d written that novel or painted that picture. Or learned to play that piece of Bach on the piano…”

羅茲就像一名布道者,總是不厭其煩地傳播與鋼琴相識相知和久別重逢的愉悅感受。除了寫書之外,他還利用自己的網站提供教程和視頻,幫助人們享受鋼琴的學習過程。新年伊始,很多人都會給自己制定新的目標,所以這時候似乎很適合嘗試一下新的挑戰。畢竟,生命短暫,歲月珍貴。"是的。我們不會在即將離開人世時考慮再多發幾封郵件,再多做幾份表格。"他開玩笑道,"但我可能會想:我真希望自己能寫一本小說,或者畫一張畫,抑或彈奏一首巴赫的鋼琴曲。"
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