I took the intermediate piano class and started to work on improving my reading. I also started taking the other core music classes with some interesting and unexpected results. The first one being the necessity of confronting the presence of rules in music such as avoiding the infamous parallel 5ths and octaves. I protested, "What do you mean I can't use parallel 5ths? I use them all the time! They sound great." It took me a while to accept that we were studying music theory as practiced in the Bach chorales. I was so bad at Theory in the beginning that my teacher suggested that maybe I should reconsider being a music major. But I am one of those who will only redouble their efforts at something if they are told it is out of their reach. I ended up helping this teacher clear some land for a house he was building in exchange for extra tutoring in music theory which had the desired effect of improving my grades and gaining the teacher's respect and friendship.
Another by-product of the core music classes was that I was introduced to the music of Claude Debussy (who did use parallel 5ths). Debussy's music was my true gateway into the world of classical music and it also introduced me to my future piano teacher through a performance he gave of some Debussy for a music history class. What I loved, and still love about Debussy was that it sounded fresh, new, imaginative and contemporary to me. With Debussy as my starting point I moved forward into the world of 20th century music and backwards through the 19th and 18th centuries to meet up again inevitably with a new found appreciation of my former nemesis, and newfound friend, J.S. Bach.