An Incompetent Musician


My mother was obviously desperate to find something for which I had any talent. By the age of seven I had already been route marched to ballet classes, tap lessons, horse riding classes, swimming clubs and Piano lessons. Whilst I proved to be a competent rider, reasonable dancer and proficient swimmer the musical odyssey didn’t quite go according to plan.

Ill Equipped Child

Why my mother would think that a child with the manual dexterity of an elephant would prove to be a great concert pianist I can’t imagine. Throw into the mix that I lacked any trace of creative talent and had a left hand which consistently failed to cooperate with my right and the recipe for disaster was all too evident.

The Lessons

Nonetheless I was taken to my weekly piano lessons where I spent an hour with a dictatorial and impatient tutor who completely lacked any trace of human kindness and whose classes were more like boot camp punishment for delinquents. As I stumbled my way through each piece I was constantly derided and no amount of practice resulted in any meaningful progress. It took a whole year for Mum’s to realise that she was wasting her money and once that whole episode was over I never returned to playing keyboards. Well, other than a bashing out a quick ditty on the giant piano from the film Big at FAO Swartz in Las Vegas. I should add that my partner managed a rather good rendition of chopsticks on that extraordinary instrument.

A Great Relief

My attempts to learn the recorder proved equally futile and once I had discovered that I sang like a strangled rat I gave up playing music for good in favour of listening to it which I am sure has been a blessing to all of my neighbours. I do wonder, though, if life might have been very different had I been a youngster today. These days I could forego the teacher who was undoubtedly a close relative of Attila the Hun and learn to play using tutorials on YouTube. That way I might enjoy the experience a great deal more although I doubt if my achievements would amount to very much.

A New Way to Learn

I could also learn via computer games. My partner had been attempting to learn to play the guitar for many years but his progress rivalled that of mine with the piano. Having invested in a new instrument (a workman always blames his tools) he has redoubled his efforts with what I can only describe as a bizarre X Box game which appears to combine guitar playing with open warfare! I don’t really understand how using your strings as a game controller in order to shoot the enemy could ever promote a knowledge of guitar chords but my partner swears that it has helped immensely.

I am not sure what it has helped but I fear it isn’t the prospect of having a rock musician in the house. Another relief for the neighbours although they must be wondering what the hell goes on in our household. That discordant mix of strumming and gunfire must be hard to fathom. If they ever complain I will blame it on the army conducting secret manoeuvres nearby!


Article by Sally Stacey