EVERY MONDAY evening since last summer, I’ve taken R. to a house on the edge of our neighborhood, where she spends a half-hour seated at a gorgeous grand piano learning melodies and chords from a wonderful, fun, funky, funny teacher.
After she’s finished, she moves to a chair near the fireplace, and I take her place.
At the tender age of 43, I am finally learning how to play a musical instrument. (I choose not to count the air guitar I’ve played for many years.)
R. went into piano lessons with a couple of years of violin under her belt, and you can tell. She picks up melodies and chords with scary ease, and when she’s home, she’ll sit at our piano and just start noodling over the keys, and damned if her random musical musings don’t sound awesome.
Me, I still look at scales and do the “Every good boy does fine” thing in my head to figure out where to put my fingers and what note to start on. I’m far more deliberate in my playing than R. is. And without sheet music in front of me, I produce a clanging cacophony that sounds like the result of Cooper hopscotching across the keyboard, whereas R.’s more finely tuned ear allows her to play extemporaneously.
For all of that, I could not be having more fun. Each Monday’s lesson flies by way too quickly, and I so wish I had more time to practice during the week. Like golf, I’ve found the piano an activity that I will likely never be very good at yet still am enthralled by.
When I have my fingertips on the keys and I’m translating the squiggles on the page in front of into a melody, it’s like magic. Everything else in my head bleeds away; only the music is left. In most areas of my life I struggle with being mindful; when I play, the mindfulness is effortless.
Kids famously hate to practice their instruments. (Truth be told, R. has to be nagged quite a bit.) I welcome it; I crave it. It’s a time for me to exercise a creativity I’d never previously attempted, and a place to give myself over completely to this achingly beautiful art. | DL