Tender Digits

Dear Psychos, I’ve been learning piano for the first time. Six weeks ago, I couldn’t read music, and I had no idea what keys played which notes. Of course, I’m in the thick of stumbling around, trying to wrap my brain around junk like the fact that some idiot decided that A flat and B sharp ARE THE SAME GODDAMN THING. Also, no one informed me that I’d need to learn Italian in order to play this instrument. Not unless this outfit comes with bottomless thin crust pizza and gelato. No grazie.

I’ve often been asked if I play piano (or told that I should) because my fingers are so long and amazingly graceful. Well now, all you well-intentioned judgy people can rest easy, because my fingers are fulfilling their prophesized (spellcheck doesn’t like this work and says it’s not, in fact, a word, but I disrespectfully disagree) glorious destiny. However, in my limited exposure to musical pieces, I’ve come across some that require my pinky to be on one note (like a C) and then for my thumb of the same hand to be on yet another C an octive higher and jesus handcramps that’s hard and my tender digits just can’t reach! I’m honestly not sure how I’m supposed to figure this one out.

In short bursts, learning to play an instrument whose sound I consider to be heaven on earth is exhilarating. The first few weeks of class, we were instructed to practice the pieces we were given, and I did, but I couldn’t contain my excitement and almost immediately started looking up music tutorials on YouTube. Finding it kinda by accident, I came across the theme to Harry Potter and just couldn’t help myself. It took me maybe an hour of practice to be able to do the first few measures with little to no mistakes, and as soon as I produced those first eight magical notes (if you’re fans you know exactly what I’m talking about) I got this rush of giddy excitement. ACTUAL MUSIC WAS FLOWING THROUGH ME! Music by John Williams, no less! I learned the first minute of the song and practiced it so much that I have it memorized and didn’t even need to consult my sheet music. What excited me the most was when I found myself starting to sway as I played – the piece has such a whimsical quality and I found myself playing around with speed and intensity. After a while, the piece felt so natural. My fingers knew their places – muscle memory was successfully taking place. Insert mind-blown emoji.

After seven years of being out of the workforce and being a stay at home mom, getting to challenge my brain in a way it’s never been challenged before is both exhausting and exciting. I’ve been having dreams of playing the piano – ever more complex pieces. I’ve found myself keying (musical pun intended) into background piano music in commercials or movies, wondering what key that was in or if I could play it if I tried. I can also feel a difference in my hands. They are literally stronger, more dexterous. My fingers are more nimble and responsive. It’s like they’ve woken up from a deep sleep. I feel like my hands are finally doing what they’ve been meant to do all along. I remember feeling the same way about my boobs when I started breastfeeding my babies.

I find myself frustrated that I can’t magically play complicated pieces immediately. My left hand can’t switch chords fast enough and forget trying to make my two hands play two different things at the same time. But progress is being made, however slowly, many swear words at a time.

My ultimate dream is to be able to play Lady Gaga and sing at the same time. I’m well on my way.

3 responses

  1. This is the very best post I’ve read today. Thanks! I could identify with everything you said; music, learning piano, breastfeeding, the whole enchilada. What a joy to make music, even better to play the songs you love. So wonderful you are taking time for yourself after giving so much to your little people. Gracias!

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