I got a piano for my birthday. It’s not really a piano, it’s an electric keyboard. But if I say I got a keyboard for my birthday some people might think I’ve got a new computer keyboard for videogaming. And it’s not really for my birthday, for that matter. There are still a few days until I turn 27. But it has 88 keys and some fancy weights to make it feel like a real piano, and that ought to be enough for now because I don’t know how to play the piano.
Let me repeat that: I have no idea how to play a piano. I don’t even know how to read music. And after sitting through a number of my husband’s clarinet lessons, it turns out I don’t even know how to LISTEN to music. Much to the hub’s amusement, I can’t pick out one instrument within a song and listen to whatever its doing. I don’t know the difference between a melody and a baseline. (Is that even a thing? Maybe it’s bass.) And why the hell is the music written for the right hand different from the music written for the left hand??
Some of you may think I sound silly. Perhaps you took music lessons in school. You were in band or strings or intermezzo. Maybe your parents got you a tutor at home. But me? I was the lead kazooist in the third grade kazoo band. Now, if you don’t know what a kazoo is, it’s a pretty simple instrument. You’ve probably received one in a cracker jack box. Usually made of plastic, it has one hole to blow in and one hole where the air comes out of. In order to play, you just sort of hum into it and hope for the best. I guess I was the only child who could produce enough air to keep the kazoo going for a whole solo. My lungs are not so powerful these days.
But let’s talk about my experience with real instruments for a second. I played the guitar here and there throughout high school and college. I was never any good, but I had a lot of metalhead friends in high school, so I got a cheap electric guitar from the internet and learned a few System of a Down tunes by looking at tabs. It looked and felt really cool, but I didn’t actually like the music all that much and the strings hurt my fingers.
On a road trip to San Francisco in college, I stumbled into a little music shop and fell in love with a little backbacker acoustic guitar. I was really into Taylor Swift at the time, so I grabbed a capo and strummed away to some 4-chord songs. Again, I used tabs. And again, my fingers HURT. Day after day, I would grind my fingers along the strings until I bled a little bit. But the callouses never developed. After 8 months or so, I gave up on the guitar once again. I call it sissy-finger syndrome. PM me if you have a better name, please.
Once I got a real job I was too busy to try with anything difficult, and wanted to spend more time out socializing. I needed something I could take along with me and practice whenever I found a free moment. So I turned to the harmonica. Remember that bit I said earlier about my lungs not being too great anymore? It turns out 19 years of living with 3-4 chainsmokers does a lot of bad work on the lungs. Still seeing doctors about that one, so while I still have the harmonica, I’m on hiatus until cleared by a doctor.
And that’s about it. It’s like a list of my old sweethearts that just didn’t work out. I’ve had minor flirtations here and there with the violin and the recorder, and even a cool summer pretending I could sing. But the instrument that has always been in my heart is the piano.
Whenever I go to listen to relaxing music, I go for piano tunes. All my favorite movies are soundtracked with pretty piano music. When you ask me to imagine an instrument, the piano is always the first to come to my mind. It has such a variety of sounds and flavors and moods. Its versatility seems to be unmatched.
It could, potentially, be the love of my life.