‘One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.’
I began playing the piano when I was ten (a LONG time ago!). My piano teacher was a wonderfully kind old man named (appropriately enough) Mr Sharp. He often said I was a ‘great little sight-reader’. And indeed I was because…. it was the ONLY THING I COULD DO! Without the music in front of me I couldn’t play a thing.
I loved playing the piano, but as I grew up I secretly longed to be ‘one of those people’ who could play without the music in front of them. Whether they were remembering written music, doodling around on a favourite tune, or inventing ones of their own. I knew people who could do it, but unfortunately they were the self-taught types who couldn’t really explain what they were doing. A bit like the centipede at the Ugly Bug Ball – they couldn’t teach anyone else their moves!
So for years I was left thinking that playing by ear and improvising were for the gifted few.
HOW WRONG I WAS!
In my thirties, and in the spirit of ‘now or never’ after the death of my parents, I was determined to try again. I discovered the Jazz & Blues exams thanks to another lovely teacher named Bob Holland. I learnt to do all the things I’d dreamt about. I learnt to sit down and PLAY, to pick out a tune by ear, improvise over chord changes, play with other people, accompany them singing, make up my own stuff and have FUN. After so many years of simply sight-reading, it was as if I’d taken off a straight-jacket.
I began teaching the piano eight years ago after studying for the ABRSM Jazz & Blues exams. After learning to do what I’d believed couldn’t be taught, I was inspired to pass that knowledge onto others. I’ve been spreading the word ever since!