Coming Out of the Closet

Not a lot of people know this, but I am a closet keyboard player, and despite my electric keyboard being stored away in a cupboard for the past few years, this week I took the decision to bring it back out of hiding and start playing again.

It all started way back when as a child I wanted to play the piano. My grandparents had an upright in their lounge. My uncles played a little and my father could bash out a fair rendition of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.1 in B minor, but us grandchildren were never allowed to touch it. It was always kept locked, although we would lie underneath it and hit the strings till Nan appeared and we’d all run like hell into the garden, each blaming each other. Happy days.

Still the urge to play gnawed at me but my parents could not afford for me to have lessons, let alone buy a piano. To them, my weekly dance classes (ballroom and Latin American) were enough. A friend from infant and junior school, Peter, had a grand piano in the lounge at his house, I was always envious of such a highly-polished and large instrument. A few years ago, Peter and I found each other through Facebook. He has gone on to greater things with music – he’s Organist and Director of Music of the Royal Memorial Chapel, at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst in England as well as an accomplished accompanist, arranger, composer, conductor, and opera singer, with works performed on stage and radio. Oh, what I might have achieved too had I been able to play.

Over the years the urge never left me. In the 1980s, at home full time through long-term illness, I was determined to learn to play so purchased an old wreck of an upright from a dealer. It sat in our dining room, often out of tune but good enough for practice. I found a piano teacher and began to learn, this was necessary as I couldn’t even read music. She doubted I would be able to master the instrument as I have small hands and hand span but I managed. I wasn’t keen on the type of music she taught, after all who wants to play The Merry Widow all day long? Soon she thought I was ready to take my Grade 1 exam. For this she wanted me to sing. Why, I have no idea but that was a big no no. I cannot sing. Never could, never can and no one will ever be able to teach me. After that, I never went back.

A short while after, I overheard a conversation with a lady I knew vaguely talking about an electric piano she had bought. We chatted, and invited me to see it. I was hooked. I wanted one, and she offered to help me play. After several months, I went out and bought my own. Not an electric piano, I couldn’t afford that, but a six octave electric, all singing, all dancing (well not quite), multi instrument and tempo keyboard. And thank goodness for headphones. I could now play at my heart’s content without disturbing Dave or the neighbours. I was never brilliant at it, had no intention of playing for anyone but I enjoyed it, which was and is the main thing.

So now it is sitting back in the office/art studio/Kit’s cave/spare room where it belongs and I am starting over learning again by going back to basics with the help of online lessons on YouTube. Just need to buy some new headphones now. Who knows, I could be playing at a venue near you some day. No, I doubt it either.

9 responses to “Coming Out of the Closet

  1. Good for you, Kit. I was also a late starter to the piano having always wanted to play. I started at 50. Again, like you, I couldn’t read the score. Well I could read the right hand but had no idea about the left. I took to it with ease.
    I had a fab teacher but when looking after my mum the lessons had to stop so I turned to the theory side of things. Back to my piano for one lesson and then broke my hip. Again no longer able to play the piano. By the time I was better my teacher had stopped.

    I have a lovely piano and I’m trying very hard to get back to the standard I was at. Downside is I can’t sit for long at it but I do adore it and mentally, it makes me feel a whole lot better.

    • My teacher was good but I didn’t like the music she made me play and then asking me to sing was the end. Sorry about your hip. I’ve surprised myself how much I remembered and the fingers still know where they should be, its the co-ordination that has lapsed. But am enjoying it again. I should not have stopped. And yes, it certainly makes you feel good when playing. 🙂

  2. I’m impressed Kit. I don’t imagine your life is ever boring. I always thought I’d learn to play but never did. When our grand daughter was young she was in a private school that taught piano if the students wanted it. So we bought her a piano. She lost interest and for years we had the piano. Now she has it again but it’s in storage.

    • I have never been bored in my life, Lavada. And playing the piano was almost as strong a pull as wanting to write a novel. If I had the space I would have a full-sized electric piano, I forget how much I enjoyed playing and now try to spend an hour practicing each day.

  3. Wow, yet another wonderful talent. And any age is the right age for learning piano. My step-father didn’t start learning until he was seventy and he got pretty good at it. Though we had to sneak listens as he did it for himself alone and didn’t want an audience. 🙂

    • Sneaky! I would not be able to play at all if I thought someone was listening. Such is the beauty of electric keyboards and headphones -when playing, no one can hear you hitting all the right notes in the wrong order. 🙂

  4. Good for you for pursuing this life long dream. I took lessons as a child for 5 years and can’t play a thing anymore. I am so proud of you for giving it a whirl! Can’t wait for you to post us some of your music! Jillian

    • Have no fear, Jillian, I will not be posting any of my music-playing skills. Like my dancing days, I should never have given up and stopped but it’s fun playing again. I can play all the right notes now but not necessarily in the correct order! 🙂

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