Berlin and ImprovJanuary 13, 2012 by: Simon
…but first, enjoy some music!
I’m currently staying with a nice family in who have a lovely music room with an old Blüthner grand piano! So, I’m taking advantage of this by practicing constantly and making a few recordings. I need to get a new microphone for better audio quality, but in the meantime, I’ve taken four improvizations and bundled them into a suite for your enjoyment (yes, you specifically). Have a listen! Note: I cheated and sped up a few of the tempos because it sounded better. Oops!
Download the full suite by clicking here, or listen to the audio posted below.
Berlin comes in many flavors
Solid grey buildings,
Bustling city streets,
to the netherworld.
Perhaps the Winter weather is at fault, but after living here for two months, it’s still difficult to describe Berlin in a nutshell. Each area of Berlin has its own personality, and depending on where you go, this city may be either cold, grey, and decorated solely in graffiti, or full of activity with people hurrying from place to place, the streets lined with brightly-colored marketplaces and Döner Kebab vendors. If you go to the outskirts of the city, you may find yourself near a lake or surrounded by lush, green forest. All of Berlin is easily accessible by train, and if you’ve purchased a Monatskarte (monthly ticket) for travel on the S-Bahn, U-Bahn, tram, and bus, every neighborhood feels local, even if it’s almost an hour away.
I’ve met so many people here from so many different countries. One night, we went out for drinks with a few friends: at our table were two Americans (me and my lovely girlfriend), a German man, a Serbian woman, an English man, and a man from Finland. Our common language was English, so naturally that’s what we spoke. This happens more often than you’d expect, and it makes it very difficult to learn German here! We celebrated Thanksgiving with the same folks plus an Austrian friend of ours and, apparently, the American Thanksgiving feast is somewhat of a legend here – this made devouring of a giant bird that much more special.
My Life in a German City
Speaking of mass transit, a lot of my time thus far has been spent travelling from place to place on the S-Bahn. I’d found an Anglican church near Westkreuz whose pastor was generous enough to let me practice piano there twice a week while I got my feet on the ground. Unfortunately, the trip was almost an hour each way. Fortunately, I had a workbook of German verb exercises to keep me company and teach me the various forms of the word “is”: sein, sind, ist, bist, seid, sei, seien, war, warst, waren, wart, wäre, gewesen – hopefully that’s all of them.
When I wasn’t travelling to practice, I was lugging my laptop to and from the city library to work on Visa paperwork, musical projects, job applications, research, and anything else that needs to be done without distraction from YouTube. Now that I’ve moved to Zehlendorf, my routine is completely different. I’ve finished my verb workbook, German classes begin soon, the library is only three stops away by train, and there’s a piano room upstairs that becomes my “office” when the kids here are at school during the morning. Not too shabby!
Other than rant about how delicious the jam is here and how difficult it is to find a wireless café, I can’t think of much more travel-related stuff at the moment.
I’m starting up a few recording projects, including silent movies, something involving synesthesia and color projections, and more shenanigans all over the interweb. I’m working on material for auditions for Masters exams, including Scriabin Sonata No. 5 and Beethoven Sonata in C Major, Op. 2, no. 3. Here’s a work-in-progress recording of the Scriabin, recorded here at home!