It’s been five months since I took my first piano lesson. I’ve written about what it was like to start at 51 years old and what I had learned after the first six weeks, and this past week was a milestone of sorts: I recorded my first song.
When I started, I couldn’t read music; didn’t think my fat fingers would be able to pick out the right keys properly; and was convinced my hands would never operate independently.
But I had some sense of where I wanted to go, and I mentioned to my teacher that someday I wanted to play “Bye Bye Blackbird” the way Nina Simone played it.
Well, here’s my attempt at the first nine measures. (1m:22s)
And here's Nina Simone’s version that has inspired me. (8m:18s)
I can compare myself to her and think how hopeless it all is, how much further I have to go. Or I can compare myself to myself, to when I started out five months ago, and see how far I’ve come.
The best piano lesson so far has nothing to do with music. It’s that you can get better at anything with effort and feedback. When I listen to my first recording, I don’t think “I’m not very good.” I think “I’m not very good yet.”