Whenever it comes up in conversation that I endured almost a decade of piano lessons as a child, people often get a wistful look on their faces, before saying something like, “Oh, it must be so great to just be able to sit at a piano and play.”
But strangely enough, lots of the memories I have of learning to play the piano involve things other than the actual sitting-and-playing part. If you were lucky enough to take piano lessons, perhaps you’ll know what I mean. Here is a brief run-down of some of my strongest memories of taking piano lessons:
- I remember the wrinkles on my piano teacher’s hands.
- I remember the face of the kid who had his lessons right before me.
- I remember the sound of the clock ticking during my exams.
- I remember scales.
For some reason, I really liked practicing scales. No matter how hard the pieces were that I was supposed to be learning, the scales never changed, and I loved that predictability. I could remember where the sharps and flats were. I could visualize them before even playing the scale. Maybe that’s why I love this song so much; it reminds me of the comforting up and down of playing scales.
What makes this a beautiful song:
1. The wandering time signature. I’m tempted to count it as regular 4/4, but because the notes in the right hand are sometimes grouped in fives, and sometimes in sevens, I keep losing track of where the downbeat is. It makes me feel a bit musically inept, as if I’ve just tied my own shoelaces together.
2. The vocal clip. The grainy old voice that urges us to memorize the spaces in the treble clef is a great contrast to the clear, echoing notes in the piano.
3. The subtle thuds that fade in as the song nears the 2-minute mark. Like a racing heartbeat.
Recommended listening activity:
Sitting on a swing and turning around and around until you can’t turn anymore…and then letting yourself spin.