No, alas, I haven't seen Grandson today - not since Sunday. I must remedy this, though life is currently a bit full of thrills such as booking a coach for guests at Daughter 2's forthcoming wedding, taking my mum to the hairdresser, hearing her various woes, arranging for a chap to come and unblock her downpipe and so on. Tomorrow features the dentist and getting Daughter 2's oven cleaned in preparation for her tenants.
In between, I've been having a go at teaching myself to play the piano. I'm not impressed with my progress.
I have various problems. One is that I'm not good at reading music - though I can read it a bit. Many years ago, at school, I played the violin, but was never really taught any music theory. I know about the length of the notes and what sharps and flats are and, if I think about it, which lines/spaces signify which notes. But the notes I know best are the ones of the violin strings - GDAE - and of course these are all in the treble clef. Though I've sung in choirs for most of my life, being a soprano hasn't necessitated any great familiarity with the bass clef either. Both in playing the violin and in singing, I've relied a lot on my ear and my memory - the music is a great help but really I need to hear the piece first and then I can read the music. I don't really think that this is reading! It's more following.
However, I think I can learn this all right. It will just take practice and a book - which I've bought. But the thing I find really difficult is getting the two hands to do different (but similar) things at the same time. I'm sure everyone finds this problem. I just wonder whether there are some people - maybe including me - whose brains find it particularly hard to divide themselves into two. Or if you practise enough, does the breakthrough happen?
I only started last Wednesday and haven't practised every day so it's not suprising that I'm not at concert standard yet, and I am getting slightly better at playing the little tune at the beginning of one of my children's old piano books. Maybe it's a mistake to start with Book 3, but we don't seem to have Books 1 and 2. And I can play the hands separately - neither is difficult. It's the co-ordination! I'm okay for a few bars but I keep falling apart.
However, I often think that, if I couldn't read words and someone told me about it, it would sound like an impossible accomplishment. But it's easy. Touch typing sounds hard but can be learnt within a few hours. And piano playing (with both hands) can't be impossible. People do it. Children do it! My children used to, though none of them practised enough to become particularly good. My father was very good, though, as are my brother, my sister-in-law, my nephew and my niece. But they're all scientists. I wonder if this is relevant. Maybe my arty brain isn't up to it.
I'm going to have a go for a few weeks and if I feel there is hope of ever achieving even modest skills then I'll probably find a teacher. I just don't know whether I'm going to live long enough to train those hands to work independently.
Is there anyone out there who has succeeded in learning the piano at my advanced age?