There's a social history aspect to this. I'm fascinated by the idea that since the 1920s, people would go and see a movie, like the songs in it. Or like the songs they'd heard at a dance hall. Maybe they'd buy a 78. But the best bit of that is, they'd buy the sheet music, and at least one person in the family would be able to sit down in the front parlour and play it. And they could play it at parties, and dance, and sing along to it. Fifty years later, the young woman who fell in love at one of those parties, could find the music in the piano stool, play it, and remember.
I suppose this went on until the 50s as a common phenomenon, and continued in some households for longer. The music in the piano stool that came with Mrs K was mostly 40s, with the last straggler, Grease, from the 80s. Maybe some people still do this now. All is not lost. I think maybe it was this story about Beck from The Culture Show that got me thinking about all this, and decide to get back to learning to play and read music on the piano. And maybe it's just a deep distrust of technology, of our infrastructure, and I'm thinking: If the lecky goes off, we'll want candles, a piano, and sheet music.
So, I just want to be able to get a page of straightforward-ish music on the grand staff, and play the bugger. And the stuff I want to be able to play is 20th century popular music. I don't need, yet, to be able to improvise. I do need to be able to sight read pretty well, and be adept enough to play the dozen or so songs I've learned to sing in the last couple of years, A Nightingale Sang, Carrickfergus, As Time Goes By... For starters.
I need something to hang it all on, and the most obvious is the ABRSM. But not jazz piano, not yet. I need to get at least to Grade One on simply "Piano". Maybe go higher before I start branching out to other things like jazz, or playing the accordion, or wtf. The point is, I need a first goal, and a route map, I can't just wonder off into the mountains and hope for the best. So, ABRSM Piano Grade 1. Mountain number one, to be focussed on hereafter to the exclusion of all else. So, more Hanons, more scales, learning to read, and using that to learn the Grade 1 pieces. Voila.