Strike a Chord –

Paily Prompt 6 dec 15Do you play an instrument?
Is there a musical instrument whose sound you find particularly pleasing?
Tell us a story about your experience or relationship with an instrument of your choice.

I have tried…I did try…I’m still trying!

Mum began teaching my elder sister and me to play piano. She herself could put dad into a swoon almost if she played her pieces–he would sidle into the door frame and lean there, soppy smile, listening to every note and watching her fingers as they moved delicately along the keyboard.

My sister learned to play well, and there came the time for her to learn from a ‘professional’ teacher, who in turn suggested to mum that she had taught sis everything she could, and that sis should start lessons with one of the local convent nuns.

Me? Well, I admit it now–the only piece I ‘mastered’ I can still remember: Princess Waltz. Came the day when a teacher (I was then aged twelve) brought out his violin and taught us how it was constructed, and demonstrated chords and pizzicato playing. As it coincided with the issue of Orange Blossom Special played by the (NZ) Hamilton County Bluegrass Band, I was “inspired”. Without much argument or even discussion, within a week of me asking mum could I learn the violin, I was off to the convent.

(YouTube video of the band and the song at this link:

NB They’re “older & wiser” now)

I had to practise at the convent after cycling from school (‘though the following two years I was attending the convent school) as whenever I started practice at home, my baby brother would cry. First I was ousted from the lounge to my bedroom, then from my bedroom to the cabin in the back yard, then from the cabin to the convent’s music practice “cubby-holes”. So called as they had room enough -just- for a piano, a music stand and a chair. The window was a small one, patterned glass through which no one could see the sky’s clouds, and all the walls (and the back of the door was covered with Pinex for sound-proofing.

Violin ceased when I got bored by the set classical and childish pieces. (It didn’t help that I played by ear.) I would encourage other budding musicians on joining me in a “hootenanny” of sorts, playing the latest from the bluegrass band. I was ousted from violin practice rooms – and lessons – for being a bad influence on the other girls. I was thirteen in 1964

{{{{ TIMEWARP }}}}

In 1996  I bought a cheap-as electronic keyboard. I could remember Princess Waltz! And managed to pick my way through a few other pieces, forgotten now. My second son, used the keyboard to teach himself to play a nursery rhyme, and thus was able to achieve a creditable pass in Music-required to perform with four instruments in pubic. He’d learned to play percussion and guitar, the school choir (compulsory for all who wanted to join the music department) gave him his third instrument -his voice- and on concert night we were astounded when he got away with playing a nursery rhyme on the piano!

Needing some dosh (= cash) the keyboards was eventually ousted.

{{{{ TIMEWARP }}}}

In c. 2013, after in the interim researching my dad’s genealogy, I decided I could play the Bodhran, and wanted to learn the Tin Whistle. Fan of The Pogues and the Dubliners, me.

So whenever there’s no one home to complain about the noise, I practice one or the other. And I Still can’t read music, but am beginning to find the tin whistle fingering and the patterns on the sheet music. I can belt the rhythms on the Bodhran, but not yet capable of leading a session in the local Irish pub on St Patrick’s night.

So, that’s me and music lessons…still trying, really. I mean, Really trying.


(prompt at )

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