I was about 10-ish when I received one of the coolest ever birthday gifts – a Casio electric keyboard. It was an uber-fancy thing with loads of buttons and settings to make my piano notes sound like saxophones or trumpets or a full orchestra if I wanted. You could set a beat and play along. It was cool.
Having said all that, I’d had no formal training in piano at the time nor were my parents thinking they’d even go about getting me lessons #becauseexpensive – I simply had a keyboard, an instructional book and some fire in my belly to be like Elton John.
Now remember, back then in the 80s, there was no Googling, no YouTube, and definitely no apps on my non-existent smartphone to guide me on this learning journey. There was simply an expectation that I’d figure it out.
For years, I tried to figure it out. I got a few little ditties down pat. But there’s only so many (trillion) times one person can play and listen to Hot Cross Buns before you want to poke your own eyeballs out with a biro. So the amazing Casio electric keyboard came to rest under my bed. For 30 years.
One generation later, and along comes a musically-inclined tween daughter who finds the dust-encrusted keyboard in a cupboard at Nanny and Pop’s house and decides she wants to learn to play it. I had flashbacks of Hot Cross Buns and bleeding eyeballs. However, Miss 9 has modern technology on her side. With music reading down pat thanks to school violin lessons, this kid Googles for piano tips, discovers the very brilliant app ‘Simply Piano’ and, BOOM!, we are BOTH learning to play the piano together – three decades after that bloody keyboard came into my life!
There’s something cool about learning a new thing. You’ve got a new skill or talent to make conversation about. You open yourself up to a potential new set of like-minded friends. You’ve got something to look forward to. And given the fact that I’m learning alongside my baby daughter, there’s a whole other set of parenting and relationship benefits for her and I. The only problem I have is trying to keep up with little Miss Alicia Keys.