23rd September, 2007
I have a piano in my house which I have tried twice over the years, half-heartedly, to sell. It is a rather good upright and I can’t bear to give it away and at the back of my mind is the thought that perhaps my grandchildren will one day want to learn. I learnt myself from the age of 5 to 17, doing all the exams and hating them, ditto the relentless competitions that were the norm and which turned me into a dithering wreck every time. I haven’t played much since because to play well requires constant practice and I was only too glad to escape that tyranny when I left home. I did try to teach my own children: my eldest son was doing really well until a boy at school told him that only ‘moffies’ played the piano and later I put my daughter’s name down for lessons at school for three years in a row, only to be told every time that she would not be allowed to take lessons as she couldn’t sing. ?! I found that inexplicable as she had been learning at home with me and always knew the minute she made a mistake. I suppose inevitably, no-one is allowed to play just for pleasure and she would have had to take the aural exams (and failed as she can’t carry a tune.) In those days, we couldn’t afford the private route. Later my eldest showed renewed interest when he was in his guitar stage - but wanted me to teach him to play in two weeks! He wasn’t interested in the long haul. My youngest hasn’t shown any interest at all. So it’s up to my future grandchildren. By then, I think the wheel will have turned: the trend towards instant gratification in all things, including electronic keyboards, I think may have waned somewhat and people will again value the craftsman’s skill. Look at the renewed interest in knitting! I am looking forward to showing my grandchildren how to bake cakes, weighing the flour, sugar, butter etc. and licking the bowl. I hope so anyway. The piano stays!