I Can Almost Play Just One Song


Detail of piano in our basement. It dates from about 1973 or so. My kids very briefly took lessons using this piano, and now it’s my practice piano.

Music update: I started piano lessons in March, studying with Mount Mercy’s own Tony Nickle.

How is it going? Well, I know very little about music, so for the first month I was pretty much just learning notes. Can’t say I can read them instantly—I probably need to go online and practice more—but I can figure them out.

Ebony and ivory together.

Ebony and ivory together.

Next came learning where the notes are on the piano keyboard. Tony said that would be easier than learning the notes on the musical staffs, and I guess he’s right.

Finally, I started practicing playing. I’ve played a total of three tunes so far, rather badly and slowly. The first two didn’t really sound like music to me, but Tony assured me I was making progress. Now, on tune number three, while it’s getting to be a bit of an earworm by now (I’ve been on it for about a month), it does at least sound a bit like music to my ears. I’ll post a sample. You’ll be underwhelmed. Trust me, it’s progress.

Frankly, I’m not displeased at all. It took me a long time to learn just G and A in the bass clef for my bell choir, so the slow pace of learning—while not what I would like—is not a surprise. And I don’t have hours to practice. I thought I would practice more when summer came, but so far summer has been passing in a busy haze.

Still, I can read music, a bit. I understand the notes, a little. I can’t read fast enough to play well, I hesitate a lot, but I’m learning something new.

And my mother’s piano, which was purchased in the early 1970s when we lived in the rental house on Kindler Avenue, and which was damaged in a move and also went through the fire in the Third Street house, is making music again. Sort of.

Give me time.

I don’t have any ambitions in taking piano lessons, other than self enrichment. My wife suggested I do it because she thought it would help me in the bell ensemble, and I suppose she’s right.

So far so good. I don’t exactly have the music in me yet, but I’m trying.

On the topic of music, here is a highlights video of the MMU bell choir at the hooding ceremony in May. I had to run up to the camera, start it, and run back to my place, and sadly no one was there to pan, so you don’t even see the full choir. For me, I enjoy the video because I don’t actually hear what we sound like when I’m playing—my own bells are too loud and drown out the tune.

I think we sound nice. Much better than a very novice student piano player, wouldn’t you agree?


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