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A Song I Can Play On An Instrument

July 13, 2014

It doesn’t seem fair to include instruments that I play regularly, like the guitar or drums. I’ve played live so many times that there are millions of songs I can knock off without much thought. I think it’s the same with most musicians. There are patterns of playing that you can fall back on so you get through a song making a suitable sound.

The piano, though, is an instrument for which I have a limited facility. I know my major and minor chords reasonably well and I can play the odd blues lick that might sound OK if you’ve had a few drinks. But there’s only one song that I can properly accompany myself on, playing the bass, chords and vocal line all at the same time, and that’s Penny Lane.

I figured it out back when I lived at home from a music book that my mum had borrowed from school, the first and possibly the only time when I’ve had the diligence to systematically learn how to play something. It’s a clunky arrangement and it’s even more clunky in my hands, but it’s my go-to tune whenever I’m somewhere with a piano. I once played it on the piano at my friend Melanie’s house. She was very gracious about my performance, then, when it was her turn to sit and play, she ran off Fingal’s Cave or something like that, note perfect and with a fluency that was wonderful to hear.

There are lots of levels of ability when it comes to a skill like playing a musical instrument. I’m way down the rankings when it comes to serious musical chops. But you can’t let that stop you, can you! And as long as you’re aware that you can test people’s patience if you’re of limited ability and you play for too long, most people are appreciative of your efforts.

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