Will Piano Be Willie’s Forte?


For the better part of 50 years, a piano has stood silent in the corner of my living room.

When, three years ago, I took early retirement from surveying I thought; what better way to keep the old grey matter working than to learn how to play it?

Anyway, I thought, surely it can’t be that difficult to pick up? With maybe three or four lessons I should be up and running in no time.

Think again!  Three and a half years on and the weekly lessons continue! Not quite reached Conservatoire standard yet, I’m afraid, but with another 10,000 hours practice who knows!

Anyway, so much for my 4 weeks should do it theory.

It really is enjoyable, though, working through a new tune and eventually making a semi-reasonable job of it. Of course, that’s when I’m in the room on my own. The brain and fingers immediately part company the moment I think anyone’s listening.

Being a piper you might think would help. Not really. There are only 9 notes on the chanter; there are 88 on the piano. And, what’s more, the pipes only come out at one volume!

One bad habit I have, that is probably attributed to the pipes, is trying to commit everything to memory.

Many of my favourite tunes are works by Ludovico Einaudi. Another favourite is Adelina, and her version of Queen’s “Who Wants to Live Forever” and Elton John’s “Circle of Life” are among my current projects. 

Of course, the sign of any true professional is that they can make it look so easy. Until you try it yourself!

It’s a bit like spinning plates. I can go back to a tune I was working on a few weeks ago, and it’s like I’ve never seen the blinking thing before!

Given the lockdown of these past few months, what with the garden and two or three hours a day tickling the ivories, I’ve hardly ever needed to turn on the television.



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Willie Shand