“And now,” said Mrs. Nelson, “You can try playing it with both hands.”

This was huge. Before, I could only play one note at a time, one hand at a time. I was four and a half. Almost five, I pointed out.

Today was my breakthrough day. I was going to play “Abide With Me” with two hands using chords. Okay, it was just two notes in each hand, but still chords. My first power performance! I was definitely going to be a great pianist.

I couldn’t reach the pedals yet. I was too small, but eventually, I’d get there.Thus I advanced my musical career which, in the end, didn’t amount to much. I enjoyed it, though. I tried majoring in it in college, but piano wasn’t the right instrument for me.

I needed something more compact, with fewer long reaches. I was tiny with very small hands. Making those long reaches in complicated pieces was impossible. I didn’t have the physical equipment.

By the time we were moving past Chopin Nocturnes to Beethoven sonatas and finally, to a Grieg sonata I couldn’t master no matter how hard I tried, it was obvious to me, if not my teacher, that my problem wasn’t lack of practice. I practiced a lot. Every day. For hours.

I was not going to be a great pianist.

Piano became a hobby and writing my profession. I’m not sorry it worked out this way. I can’t even imagine myself performing with an orchestra or alone on a big stage. I’ve still got, after all these years, an insane degree of stage-fright where music is concerned, though I can speak in public without a problem. There’s no accounting for irrational fear, is there?

Categories: Childhood, Music, Musical Instruments

Tags: , , , , , ,

6 replies

  1. And yes, I have no problem to speak in public. Strange how our brains work, eh?! 😉🙃


  2. I’m the same. I learned to play the violin when I was already 12+ but my dream instrument was always the cello. I always played but – same as you – playing in public still bothers me greatly. I’m just not at ease bring a mediocre musician. I used to say: I’m not a soloist, but like to howl with the pack.
    Then, I mentioned my cello dream to HH and he said: Why don’t we just look for a cello? Which we did and after one year of trial I got to choose my own instrument. Which I love and cherish.


    • I had a piano, but the arthritis in my hands was bad enough to make playing first difficult, then impossible. I already knew that arthritis in ones hands was often the price we pay for learning piano when very young so I wasn’t surprised. I continued to play a little bit, but now I have a ukulele (fun!) and some tin whistles and a cigar-box guitar, so I’ve got plenty to keep me busy. My hands still get very sore, even simply drawing.

      I’m glad you got the instrument you wanted. Cellos are expensive instruments, too. I hope you enjoy it for many years to come.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Itsn’t it great to know how to use the keyboard of a piano? 😉 For a child it’s always full with efforts learning to play an music instrument. But as later you start as more difficulties you will have. Best wishes, Michael


    • I never regretted learning piano, but it was too big for my little hands. I needed some other instrument. Who knows? A violin? Flute? Something smaller. But it’s okay. I still love music and I’m glad I could play, even mediocrely. Now, with all the arthritis in my hands, I can’t play at all, but some things don’t make it to old age. Surviving age does mean giving up a few things.


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