So yeah, I play the piano now.
I’ve been taking lessons every week, from the same wonderful woman who teaches my two youngest kids, and I can play real songs even. My repertoire is pretty small: I can take requests so long as you ask for Edvard Grieg’s “Morning Mood” or Heinrich Wohlfahrt’s “Little Romance.”
I thought playing the piano would be an adjustment after 48 years of not playing any musical instrument, after a lifetime of not even knowing how to read music. I thought maybe I’d have to overcome some mental or emotional block. But really, the transition has felt completely natural.
Partly, this comes from living in a house full of musicians. If I want to know how a piece sounds, I just yell, “Someone come play this for me,” and one of the kids will come over and play the song for me. It helps to know what I’m aiming for. Shaggy Hair Boy and With-a-Why are good role models for anyone learning to play the piano: they have the attitude that you can learn anything you want so long as you practice it enough.
And of course, I already knew Piano Teacher, since she’s been teaching my kids for years. She takes the simple songs I can play just as seriously as the complex classical pieces that my sons play. “You did it!” she’ll say, after I’ve struggled through a couple of measures. Since most of her students are little kids, she always has stickers with her, and I’ll ask her to put a star on my page of music when I’ve accomplished something.
“Show that to your kids,” she’ll say, and we both laugh like crazy. I had wondered if it would bother me being so far behind my kids that I have no chance of ever catching up (if you could watch With-a-Why’s hands as he plays “Maple Leaf Rag,” or listen to Shaggy Hair Boy improvise on jazz numbers, you’d know what I mean), but playing the piano myself just makes me appreciate even more the talent of my kids. Even if I have to fight them sometimes to get practice time at the piano.