Piano happiness of the day: shell voicings sound much less odd after two hours of practicing the same song repeatedly with them. In the beginning, I had to keep on cheating and crossing over with my right hand to play the root* because shell voicings sounded so foreign I couldn't bring myself to play them. Now the trick will be to see whether I can do this for other songs. I'm trying to see if I can play a right hand melody, left hand shell voicings, and hum the root (while sightreading). Coordination! It is fun!
*In a C major chord, C is the root, and the shell voicing I'm playing is the 3rd + usually-the-7th, which would be E and Bb, respectively. Yeah, I didn't learn this stuff until quite recently either.
Speaking of bass: I'm likely to be traveling a lot in the near and not so near future, and want an instrument I can take with me so I'll have something I can practice regularly on the road. Being a pianist and a nomad is not, I've found, a great combination for someone who hopes for a daily practice routine (hah). The interesting constraint is that the instrument can't go much higher than an octave above middle C, since that's when I stop being able to hear notes easily. Tenor sax barely makes it, and is larger than I'd like to haul around. Harmonica and piccolo are definitely out.
However, a fretless travel bass + pocket amp seems to fit the bill quite nicely, and bass is one of the instruments on my short list* to play. This isn't likely to happen in time for me to be a bass player in Australia/NZ, but I suppose I should be spending my time roaming Tasmania and Wellington in any case. Also, I should earn the money to buy that instrument first instead of just buying it, because... that would be... smarter.
*In order, they are: piano (jazz and classical about equally ranked), cello (in a string quartet, when I really dream), percussion (jazz, taiko, and classical in that order), bass (I'd prefer string bass to bass guitar, but practicality dictates the latter), guitar (I love the sound, but playing the instrument itself may be out because my hand is uncomfortably small; I may have to borrow Leslie's guitar consistently for a few weeks and see), and saxophone.
During a conversation about portable musical instruments, we also came across a clarinet made out of a carrot and an ocarina made from broccoli, and I acquired new motivation to get my cello up to Boston (possibly in March, when I will hopefully be in IL for PyCon). And I was gratified to notice that in the past two months alone, I've gotten way less conscious about messing around with pianos in public spaces - or semi-public spaces, like at Mako's house the other night. I don't sound any better, mind you, but I care a lot less about what people think.
I really should record myself playing piano and post it so I can track my progress that way as well.