The Piano Man (Without the Piano Skills)

Published by Jerico on

From a young age, I knew that I should learn a musical instrument. I always loved to sing and did so with pride. It wasn’t until my second oldest brother learned guitar, solely through Youtube videos I might add, that I realized I was way out of my depth in terms of musical skill. He would always learn long-forgotten melodies and I would hum an inaudible tune that wasn’t quite in the right key.

Kid boy playing guitar and watching online lessons on laptop while practicing at home. Stay home. quarantine. Online training, online classes.

Photo by ulza on Adobe Stock

This feeling of inadequacy was furthered when I joined my high school’s choir and vocal jazz. Having to do the pre-requisite vocal test for section placement made me realize I had no real idea of what pitch, timbre, rhythm, and beat were. I stumbled clumsily through “O’ Canada” and walked away with flushed cheeks.

Male And Female Students Singing In Choir With Teacher At Performing Arts School

Photo by Monkey Business on Adobe Stock

Naturally, the choir directors placed me in the section where most boys who were looking for an easy credit were put: the bass section. Still determined to at least learn how to match pitch and control my sound, and go on the annual trip to Edmonton but that’s by the by, I decided to stay in the program even though I felt I was lacking severely in skill.

Photo by Marcelo Noah via Flickr

My grade 9 year, for the most part, was spent trying not to stick out too much but putting my neck on the line for the reward of learning something new. To summarize the majority of events in my first year of singing, I faked it until I made it. I did make it eventually in that I got the solo for my group’s vocal jazz piece for “Fly Me to the Moon” by Frank Sinatra. It was at this point that I learned about style and spent weeks trying to perfectly emulate the swing and snazz of Sinatra’s iconic voice. It was the first time that I had ever gotten applause from an audience, and I knew I wanted to keep this rush forever.

Footloose 2017 Poster by O’Neill Choir Dept.

Going into grade 10 with much more confidence than I did entering grade 9, I decided to audition for the school’s musical “Footloose.” I ended up landing the role of Reverend Shaw Moore, a lead role with a couple of solo pieces! November came and four nights of massive audiences spurred me on to go bigger. In December, I joined the praise and worship band. Now I wasn’t in any way religious, but any excuse to sing was worth going for and I learned much more in terms of working in a group. By the end of grade 10, I was confident I could interpret sheet music and find the groove of any tune.

Hairspray 2018 Poster by O’Neill Choir Dept.

Grade 11 took a different turn in that I found myself in a leading role in the choir and on the stage. Two grades below me were looking up at me and my friends to help them figure out what singing and performing were all about. This encouraged me to help direct and perform in this year’s musical “Hairspray.” It was here that I found so many great students that were in my same position two years ago and I could somehow show them the way. Most of my grade 11 year focused on bringing new students up to speed while also figuring out how to reinvent my sound.

Coronavirus COVID-19

Photo by JeromeCronenberger on Adobe Stock

Grade 12 came and it was finally my turn to step up to the plate of a leader. I took part in the things I became a regular in and found the groove I’ve had for the past three years. However, little did I know one small infectious virus would steal the last applause of my high school experience. At first, I thought that the lockdown would only postpone my final concert, but as time progressed, it became clear that I wouldn’t have another solo in the near future.

Much time has passed since I last sang in front of a large audience and I have forgotten what the insurmountable fear of a voice crack was like. Sure there are opportunities for me to get back into the scene and find my voice again, but it would never be the same. At this point, I can’t even confidently read sheet music. It wasn’t until this class did I think to myself, “maybe I can do it again, but do it differently.”

woman having video chat with friends and playing music

Photo by xavier gallego morel on Adobe Stock

And so, for my learning project, I decided to take up the piano. Now, I have never learned how important the dexterity of fingers in playing is or where to put my feet, but I am confident that I can get somewhere with the piano. My plan for learning is to learn five simple things.

  1. Be able to read sheet music and recognize key signatures
  2. Be able to play all major musical scales
  3. Play with both my left and right hand.
  4. Be able to form chords
  5. Play a song from start to finish with minimal mistakes.

I cannot promise that I will be able to accomplish these things as I want this skill to progress beyond the scope of this course, but having set goals is the key to getting anywhere in learning. I plan to learn primarily from Youtube videos and online courses. There is a plethora of content from beginner classes to masterful insights. Moreover, it isn’t difficult to find flashcards or quizzes that test my sight-reading abilities. My hope is that I’ll be able to encompass what I have left every week in a concise way, but I may venture into vlogging if I can’t seem to find the words for what I need to get across. Regardless, I’m excited to get my feet on the ground and run into this task head-on. Please stay tuned to my blog and my Twitter to keep up with my journey to becoming a dollar store version of Billy Joel.

 


3 Comments

Ava Viczko · September 13, 2022 at 8:12 pm

Wow, Jerico! It seems like you’ve already gone on such a journey with your musical skills. I’ve always admired the ability of musicians and I’m excited to watch you learn. I love your outlook on this project and what you want to gain from it and I really appreciate your goal-setting. Good luck!

Jordan Puscus · September 15, 2022 at 2:38 am

Hey Jerico, I decided to read your post as I thought the adventure into learning an instrument was super interesting. One of the first classes I took as I returned to school to complete my after degree in Education was EMUS 202. I had ZERO musical background and had to learn everything from scratch. One of the goals of the course was to learn to play the ukulele. I can’t say I mastered it, but the joy of feeling like I was not incompetent when it came to musical works was pretty encouraging. I have shared a quick resource below that may be of some help to you as it was for me when I was going through the learning process.

https://www.musictheory.net/

Kaelyn · September 22, 2022 at 1:55 am

I am impressed by your whole blog! You have obviously worked really hard to build it over time. It is very cool that you are learning piano. Such a great workout for the brain!

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