1/11/07

Roll over Bay Tovin.

I've been a drummer since high school, and I've played in more bad bands than I can count. I even collected drummer jokes. (What do you call a drummer who just broke up with his girlfriend? Homeless. How can you tell if a drummer is at your door? The knocking speeds up, then slows down, then speeds up. What do you call someone who hangs out with musicians? A drummer) Needless to say, the drummer doesn't get the chicks and doesn't get the respect. I resigned myself to that fact a long time ago.

But there was always one thing nagging at the back of my mind.

I always wanted to play a real instrument. I wanted to play something that you could actually use to write a song. I wanted to learn actual notes. Play a tune and not just a rhythm.

Tonight, on this 11th of January in the fan-foreskin-tastic** year of 2007, I took my first piano lesson.

I want you to look at something very closely. Here is a picture of my right hand:



It's not a piano player's hand, by any stretch of the imagination. The fingers aren't long and slender, they don't have much reach. From a practical usability standpoint, it's not too bad -- all the fingers are there, there's no webbing, everything works. Not too shabby, as hands go. It's served me well for most of my life. In truth, my left hand has probably served me a little better if I'm being completely honest with you,* but all in all they work pretty much as designed. Memorize that picture because you are going witness a miraculous transformation. Got it memorized? Good.

Here is a picture of that same hand the exact second it touches a piano:



Well, it wasn't quite that bad, but close. The first lesson was only a half-hour long, so by the end of the night I was playing this pretty well:



OK, I can see nobody is buying that, so I'll admit the truth.

In the space of 30 minutes, my innate musical skills allowed me to completely master this complex piece of music:



Next week, I will attempt the awesome feat of using not only my right hand, but my left hand as well. Maybe even (dare I say it) both at the same time!

My practice book is filled with amazing and arcane insights into the shadowy and mysterious world of the instrument called Piano. Let me share some of my hard-won wisdom with you all, just to prove to myself that I am not wasting my money.

PIANO TONES
When you hit the key with a little weight, you make a SOFT tone. When you use MORE weight, you make a LOUDER tone.

I mean, that was not at all intuitive, right? Also -- and don't tell anybody this, because I am not sure if word is supposed to get out -- I learned that LOW sounds are on the LEFT side of the piano, and HIGH sounds are on the RIGHT.

Now you all need to give me twenty dollars, because that is apparently what the information I just imparted to you is worth.

We'll see how this goes. I could fail miserably, or you could all be looking at the next Elton John. Only, you know -- with a more tasteful fashion sense and way less butt sex.




*Get your mind out of the gutter. My father, in a completely misguided attempt to make me a fearsome baseball player, made me throw lefty. As a consequence, I am ambidextrous, with a decidedly left-leaning preference.

**What google spell checker insists on substituting for "fan-freakin-tastic"

18 comments:

  1. Anonymous9:30 PM

    hey, have you learned "up and down, down and up" yet? that's my favorite two-handed one.

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  2. Wait, is that song or a technique? If it's a song, maybe I'll learn it next week. If it's a technique, I'm hoping not cuz my instructor is a bearded guy.

    I *did* do an amazing rendition of Old MacDonald.

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  3. Anonymous11:07 PM

    You fucking slay me.

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  4. Call me when you learn "Baby Elephant Walk" cuz I took piano for 7 long damn years and frankly that's all I can remember. That and a stray Xmas carol here and there. Basically - nuffin' worth a hill-o-beans.

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  5. Wait, I thought the left side of your body was dying? Or was that just the testicle? XD

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  6. I feel your pain JV, I was a drummer. I eventually learned to play the guitar.
    You can do it!

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  7. Anonymous9:44 AM

    1 - I took 10 years of piano lessons. They ended at age 14 so now 16 years later, I can play a beautifully halting and mediocre rendition of "She's Always a Woman" by Billy Joel and not much else. I wish I would've kept it up, but our last piano teacher hated us so he stopped scheduling lessons with us. Awesome.

    2 - What is this about drummers not getting girls? Seriously? In high school and college the drummers got ALL the girls. I am not kidding. Drummers are cool.

    3 - Holy shit, Cruisermel, Baby Elephant Walk. I totally forgot about that!

    4 - I call Bullshit on the way less butt sex thing.

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  8. A synthesizer in your truck. Piano lessons. It's all coming together. Fan-foreskin-tastic!

    (Tommy Lee is a drummer and he seems to have gotten tons of chicks. But maybe it's because he is fan-foreskin-tastic in a literal sense.)

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  9. Once your band is famous, even the drummers get some. But before then, it's usually the overflow from the lead singer and guitar player.

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  10. Anonymous11:50 AM

    I dated at least two drummers. (Shut up, Cruisermel) They were awesome.

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  11. Anonymous1:40 PM

    What's the difference between a drummer and a drum machine?

    Once the machine is smashed, it no longer tries to keep the beat.

    Why couldn't the drummer get out of Newark?

    Kept missing the bridge.

    I'm a rhythm guitarist, and some of my favorite people of all time were drummers.

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  12. ew and ewwwww to both of your ass-terisks.

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  13. Anonymous2:45 PM

    Wait a gosh darn minute, are you implying that Elton John may be GAY?!?

    He is as straight as the next guy, take Siegfried or Roy for example...

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  14. JV - drummers are indeed cool. kp and I can attest to that. So if the piano thing doesn't work out - you can "beat it" over to our casas. Don't drag yourself down. Be loud. Be proud. But don't be gay.

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  15. CruiserMel - If there are any words that do not describe me, they are "loud and proud."

    And also "gay."

    SFG - I think that's good, right?

    Corbow --no, it's just dying faster than the right. It's not dead.

    Jerk - that's cool. That's also next. I'm building one now.

    Sarah - Halting is what I'm striving for at this point.

    HJ - you are exactly right.

    KP - good for you! It's about time someone like you wrecked the curve.

    Bob - thanks man. I hadn't heard the Newark one. Here's another - how can you tell if the drum riser is level? The drool comes out of *both* sides of the drummer's mouth.

    Carly, Carly, Carly. Underneath that prim and proper shell you have such a dirty mind.

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  16. Anonymous1:19 PM

    Piano is great. I'm finally teaching myself guitar 15 years after my parents wanted to teach me (I wanted to learn piano instead). It is true about it being harder to learn something the older you are, but oh well. Keep trying!

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  17. Yeah....i don't know who came up with the lie that piano players needed to have long, perfectly manicured fingers....my fingers look like those of a butcher and I play a pretty mean debussy.

    Awesome work with that and good luck....hey, it's more than what I learned on my first lesson.


    And hey...drummers are cool...they can use both their hands AND their feet at the same time....I can think of quite a few instances where that would come in handy.
    ;-)

    Awesome work with the piano lessons and good luck....hey, it's more than what I learned on my first lesson.

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  18. Hey, I dated two drummers and they were way better then the lead singer I dated! Drummers at least know where the "Pocket" is and how to stay in it! As far as the gay thing, I have found that the drummer is a much better bet on NOT being gay. Lead singers and guitarists, not so much...:)

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