Musically Inept

Practice Makes Perfect?
Practice makes perfect, eh? I wish. For if that adage were indeed true, I would be able accomplish a whole slew of things that I have always yearned to do. For instance:  Reciting the alphabet backwards, riding a unicycle, communicating with animals, break-dancing, hoola-hooping for a solid minute – Honestly, I could go on all day. Yes, I am aware that the majority of my desired talents serve no practical purpose, but just imagine if I could do any of those things! Oh the possibilities!

All silliness aside, the talent I yearn to have most is the ability to play by ear. Interestingly enough, the origins of my envy stem from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  Apparently, when two-year-old Wolfgang was outside with his father, he suddenly heard the shrill squealing of a pig. Blessed with the ability to translate sounds into notes, the young prodigy cried, “G-sharp!” Not one to dismiss his child’s genius, Wolfgang’s father rushed inside and tried the note on his piano, and G-sharp it was.

Having played classical piano for five years, I am irked at my crippling dependence on sheet music. In order to learn any new piece, I must arduously search the Internet or my books to unlock the mystery behind its essence. And that’s nothing in terms of the time I must spend translating the notes off the page. As I keenly stare at the little black markings strung on bars, I slowly process what each of them reads before tapping the corresponding note on the piano. C, strikes note, E-no wait that’s not right, F…

In contrast, my musically-gifted cousin can pick up the melody of a song within minutes, replicating it on his keyboard to perfection, chords and all. I remember the first time I watched him perform this musical feat, when I was struck by awe and envy.

If only I too could play by ear! I thought wistfully, flashing back to times where I had forgotten the notes at past recitals. Had  I just remembered the melody and hit the corresponding keys, I could have miraculously salvaged my performance!  Instead I was left at the mercy of muscle memory, which so often fails me in moments of anxiety.  Not to mention the immense musical versatility I would have with this talent. For if I could effortlessly translate sounds into notes, I could play any instrument if I just took the time to learn it.

Alas, although my inability to play by ear fosters immense longing on my part, I am fairly content with my current musical ability. Having played pieces from Mendelssohn, Clementi, Mier, Hanon, and Beethoven, I know I’m not entirely musically inept.

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