I never really got music. Not in the way my mom did, or one of my brothers, who could sit down at the piano and magically produce rhythm and blues music that seemed to make even the wooden instrument swing and sway.
For me, musical notation always seemed like an alien language. I could never remember where G and F were on the keyboard. (I can’t barely remember which one comes first in the alphabet… I always have to sing the ABCs to figure it out.)
Still I tried. After I quit piano, I played trombone (not well, of course — and a truly terrible choice for anyone who, like me, took the bus to school). Then in high school I pursued piano again. In college I took, and barely passed, music theory. As an adult, I tried guitar. And now, at age 38, piano again.
These days, it’s coming to me a little more easily, but it’s still a struggle. “No… F!” the teacher will remind me. “That should be a B,” she’d prod. “The rhythm goes like this,” she’d add, making me feel like Navin R. Johnson in The Jerk, when he couldn’t keep count with a basic 12 bar riff.
Maybe the problem isn’t me. Maybe it’s the way music is encoded. So, I’ve wondered… is there a better way to write music? Maybe instead of dots and sticks and letters, we could use numbers? Or colors? Or… oh, I don’t know. Just something that wasn’t so… hard.
Then again, there’s no guaranteeing some new mode of musical notation will alleviate me of my stupidity. Indeed, it’d just make matters worse. I suppose I just have to keep working at it.
At least these days the teacher doesn’t force me play Greensleeves.