…one man's contribution to the Weeeeerly Wild World
Some people say how music is their life… but what they often mean is they have their earphones in a lot of the time just listening. For me, I’ve always had an instrument to play whether it be the recorder at school age 7, a few lessons on the piano, or reaching grade 3 on the trumpet at age 12, along with singing in the school choir. More on singing in my next post.
These aren’t exactly stellar achievements but having a musical instrument to tinkle on has been a must-have in my life, similar to the need to ride a bicycle.
My dad played guitar (he died too young for me to remember hearing him), one uncle makes guitars and the other plays them too, so naturally I had the urge to play also. The lessons (I think I was around 14 years old) were rubbish though – just a bunch of youngsters sitting around chatting to the teacher and no one learning much. It was on acoustic guitars too and that didn’t appeal so much either, so I jacked it in.
Then when I got my first part time job whilst at college I saved up and kitted myself out with my first electric guitar – just what I wanted to be playing, so I could be cool like Marty McFly in Back to the Future. I subscribed to a “teach yourself guitar” magazine which had CDs too, and stuck with those lessons for a few issues, but I got bored with learning – I just wanted to pick up my guitar and play, so that’s what I ended up doing, just playing, never teaching myself properly or really perfecting any song. This attitude haunts me to this day, mainly because my fingers are lazy and usually only two on the left hand do anything – it’s embarrassing to see this whenever I’ve videoed myself playing guitar.
This recent clip is okay, and I still make myself laugh by watching this (you can see how not so serious I am!):
Take a step back now to keyboards. As a child in the 80s I had a Casio, little keys, couple of octaves – my mum still has it somewhere. Well at aged 15 (I think) I wanted to play more keyboard so I had lessons for a while, but here I ended up being bored of the learning as I just wanted to play, and I did, I found my fun in playing by ear. So again, the lessons didn’t last long.
Playing by ear, I have come to learn, is a good party trick (for me at least, not that I’ve ever playing at a party, but a trick nonetheless), some people can pull it off a lot better, for me it only ever got me so far.
Anyway, jump forward now some 15 years later and I had the urge at the beginning of this year to be playing some piano pieces, so I found myself a second-hand keyboard on ebay at a nice price and I’ve been happily tinkling along since. In the beginning I knew I would have to knuckle-down and learn stuff properly – mainly because the pieces I was interested in were quite advanced and playing the simple tune by ear would not cut it. I found myself delving into some music theory (something I was thrust into as a child during my trumpet lessons, but I wasn’t smart enough, or enthusiastic enough to learn much of it) but then gradually, I found myself playing by ear again too. Actually I think I have a better balance now – I am printing off sheet music and studying it, and using my play-by-ear approach to help me study it, so I’m happy enough.
Here’s the next post, the one about singing: bmhonline.wordpress.com/2015/05/20/music-in-my-life-singing