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Learning the piano


On the subject of the magazine, I don't often write articles but here is one that I wrote for the current one. It is a paired article about taking up an instrument as an adult, the first article was about one of the other editors learning the clarinet.


In a strange bout of synchronicity, when unbeknownst to me my fellow editor took up the clarinet, I took up the piano. As a child I never had the opportunity for music lessons, despite us having an old upright piano in our sitting room. Many years later, the same piano was being upgraded by my very musical cousin and he asked if anyone wanted it. It is apparently a “good” upright, and despite no one in my family being interested and it actually being quite ugly, I took it on. First, it lived in the basement where the variable humidity and temperatures made the piano tuner sad. I tried teaching myself but very quickly realised that wasn’t working. I looked around for a local teacher (I wanted to be able to walk to my lessons) and found one in the Duchy.

We arranged a meeting at David’s house to interview each other about lessons. Almost as soon as I sat down, I stopped feeling like a grown up and became an excited 8 year old who couldn’t wait to start! David ignored the excited eight year old and asked the lady of mature years if she was committed to practise every day? I was surprised, as it seemed a lot of practice but agreed, along with keeping my nails short.

Now three years down the line, the piano is in the dining room where it is much happier. I have not regretted my decision one iota…..at the same time as I regret it every morning when I “have to do my practice”.

Like Rosemary I have opted to take no exams although I have learned theory as part of the lessons as it does help. Like Rosemary, I complain about music I don’t like; David and I have a whole graveyard of pieces that we have agreed to bury.

I too had a “memorable family occasion” when after a year in I tried to play Happy Birthday for my now deceased, elderly and {insert here descriptive word meaning difficult} mother. It went very badly, she had a face like thunder but my brothers remember the occasion with much hilarity.

We have managed to keep going with lessons through lockdown. We are currently on Zoom, despite distorted sound and time delays, having had a period last year when we had lessons in person, wearing masks with a wide open door to the garden.

I love my music lessons, although you would never know with the amount of complaining I do. It has opened me up to a world of music which I had missed out on. It is great fun learning as an adult; I try to introduce a lot of chatting into the lessons while David tries to keep the lessons on track but the whole learning process is fascinating as well as a constant uphill struggle.

I keep asking, when will we get to the easy bit?

It’s all about the practice apparently.


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