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Eufo ga suki da mon

Or… “How Sound! Euphonium changed my life”.

I was looking back on some old posts on this blog yesterday, and I encountered one with a comment thread (something that never happens anymore, I wonder why… and I don’t at the same time).  In that thread, the commenter (someone named iSmarty) made some mostly accurate commentary about my personality, and not all of it was flattering.

(It was delivered in a respectful tone, so I engaged and did not block or anything.  If you engage with me that way, I’m very likely to at least entertain what you’re telling me, btw.  If you insult me, I will just block).

In it, the observation was made that I tend to talk about things I don’t like here, and that discourages comments.

That commenter might be right.  I don’t know if he or she is entirely right, but right enough that I need to think about it.

Why do I mostly only talk about things I don’t like or that bother me?

Well, I’ve said before that I’m an engineer, and that’s kind of how my mind works. I go right for the things that could be improved and try to improve them.  It doesn’t mean I don’t like anything necessarily, it just means that for the things that I like, or are good, there’s no need for improvement.  You can’t improve on perfection, but then you can fix the things that aren’t perfect, and then you’ll have even more perfection.  How can you not like that?

But then, there’s another problem.  That one being, that I truly don’t actually like a whole lot.

There is a scene in “Sound! Euphonium”, after the scene where Kumiko is running across a bridge in Uji, saying “Umaku naritai!” (I want to become good!, or I want to improve!) and after her subsequent mental breakdown, she goes home and has a small fight with her older sister.  Her older sister asked her why she doesn’t just give up the euphonium and take her studies more seriously.

“I like the euphonium!”, she responds.  “I like the euphonium!”

“Good for you,” her sister says, and walks out.  How can you argue with that?

She plays the euphonium because she likes it.  No other reason.

As I watched this scene, I was struck by one thing.

I’ve talked in the past about how much of a failure I’ve been at music and the piano.   I’ve spent the past thirty years trying to get better at it (umaku naritai!) and mostly failing, and that’s mostly because I didn’t believe I could get better.  Every time I tried to study or compose I’d get a mental block, where I’d just stare at the piano or screen, not able to proceed, and not even really knowing why I was unable to proceed.  I didn’t realize, really, how deeply traumatic my teenage and college years were, until I saw that it wasn’t that way for everyone.

So it kind of inspired me.  Not to do better, per se, but more to realize that I could do better.

As I watched Kumiko running across that bridge yelling “Umaku naritai”, I realized that I kind of felt the same way.  Umaku Naritai.  I want to improve.  I want to get better.

I like the piano.

Piano ga suki da mon!!!

So I sat down and started writing a composition.  It was difficult.  I didn’t know if I could even do it.  But sometimes I wrote for Reina, I wrote for Kumiko, I even wrote for that oboe player (I forget her name).  I wrote for all those students who also wanted to improve.  It was difficult.  It took me a month or two.  But in the end, I had a concert band piece I could at least feel a little bit proud of.  I put it out on the net and… nothing.

Like with everything I do.

But the work stands on its own.  I wrote something for the Kitauji concert band, but also for all those concert bands out there with their own Reinas and Kumikos and oboe players and Shuuichis.  I wrote something.  But more importantly, I could write something.

But I wasn’t happy.  Remember what I said about being an engineer?  There’s still so much that could be improved.  I only used relatively basic harmonies, the orchestration was somewhat crap, because of how I wrote it I made use of instruments I really didn’t need and treated them as blocks, kind of.  It could have been better.  But I didn’t know how.  So I sat down to do a different, better composition… and couldn’t.

I had a block again.

So I went to find a composition teacher, and I found one!  Now I’m learning music theory for real.  And at the same place (Preply), I found a Japanese and piano teacher, too.  And my piano teacher (who knows how much smoke she’s blowing up my ass but I don’t think it can all be smoke)  says that I’m actually really good and just need to do some exercises and polish up my skills.

Maybe I can even do this.

“Sound! Euphonium” changed my life.

Not because of any one particular character.  Not because of any one particular story.  Not because Kumiko or Reina (or even Shuuichi, let’s be equal opportunity for once) are cute.  Just because they want to improve, and showed me, indirectly, that it’s possible for me to improve as well.

I’m going to write another composition.  I’m going to become better at the piano than I ever have.  I’m going to learn how to compose, I’m going to learn how to practice, I’m going to learn how to perform.  I’m tired of just being competent.  I want to be great.  I want to be special.

Because, at the end of the day…

I like the piano.

I like music.

There’s not much more to be said.

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