I took a piano class last Friday night – R was out of town & I actually got myself out of the house & over to our beloved local community college for Todd Walker‘s famous workshop Piano Your Teachers Never Taught You. Why did I do it? I have a goal: to play When I’m 64 when I’m 64.
Like many boomers, I’d had a few piano lessons on the upright in the kitchen corner (way back when 64 seemed very far away), but it hadn’t stuck…couldn’t stand that metronome. In the 60’s I joined the throngs who gravitated to the guitar, visions of Peter, Paul & of course Mary dancing in our heads (& maybe Jimi Hendrix if you were of the male persuasion). I love listening (& moving) to music (& singing out loud when I’m by myself or with the grandson), but those strings on my old guitar are rigid from disuse, & the cheap Casio keyboard sits sadly untouched. I’d long ago given up on being a music-maker.
Those three hours with Mr. Walker happily got the concept of me-&-music-making moving to a different beat.
Here’s the basic concept: cultivate playing chords with the left hand. Doing this apparently accomplishes the the most important work in music: it keeps the beat & defines the style & mood of the piece. Wow. I knew the role of chords from my girl scout guitar days, but – duh – I’d never thought to apply that to my keyboard in the corner. (Apologies to all you musicians out there who already know about fake books & all of that…but better late than never, as they say…).
Music is something shared by all human primates & is seen by some as ‘one of the most primal & fundamental aspects of human culture‘. Some scientists hypothesize that we sang before we talked, & that shared song & dance around the fire were part of our early bonding experience as humans. The idea that only some of us are ‘music-makers’ is relatively recent – part of the continuing stratification of human culture. Uh, not really our best foot forward, imho.
I’ve been awed though by my amazing ability to remember the words & tune of a song from some long ago era while other no-doubt-much-more-significant memories remain curiously buried…no doubt you’ve been amazed by yourself too! This memory lock that music has on our brain can bring solace & comfort in old age. At a memorial recently I was given a CD of favorite songs of the departed one…music can evoke deep emotions in life, & even from beyond the grave.
So call me morbid, but I’m already compiling my playlist. Actually, playlistS: upbeat (for enthusiastic cooking, laundry, & party time); easy listening (for working, mah jongg & dinnertime); morning fog (for walking in same); & of course, quiet (for, well, all those other times). When I’m old (hopefully older than 64), please load ’em into my iPhone (or whatever it is called by then), hook me up with some good headphones (don’t forget the hearing aid), & put on your dancin’ shoes or get out of the way – I plan to be rocking my way into old age!
& just so you know, I even practiced a few left handed piano chords today, voluntarily, with my free metronome app. Flexing fingers feels fabulous.