Had I always had a longing to play or an unfulfilled dream of being a pianist? No. Not me. My knowledge of the piano was only that 1) there are black and white keys and 2) Beethoven was deaf but good at it.
I always assumed I wasn’t musical and that playing an instrument was about natural talent. You either have it or don’t. Thankfully, I was wrong.
I wish I had always had that desire to play. Knowing what I know now, I wonder why I never was interested when I was a teenager or younger. Music never called to me in the sense of playing it- only dancing to it at shady, sticky-floored nightclubs. I can sincerely say it barely crossed my mind to pick up an instrument before reaching my mid-thirties. My parents were never ones to push their kids into anything other than academic studies. Neither myself nor my two older brothers were encouraged to do anything musical or otherwise. We had no one musical in the family to inspire other than my Mother- who was in a female Barbershop Quartet which I wasn’t eligible to join for obvious reasons.
My interest in piano didn’t surface until I reached my mid-30s. Whilst living in Jordan, I attended a live concert by Jordanian Pianist, Zade Dirani at Amman’s amphitheatre. It was not only a wonderful concert, but it was my first time seeing any performance where the main focus was not a singer or actor, but the instrument itself. It was incredible to see a performer play effortlessly and with such style. This concert sparked a fire in me that I wanted to experience some of that ‘magic’.
Despite this undeniable feeling, I was still finding reasons not to do it; “I don’t have time am too old, too busy” etc. The negative internal voice in us will always find a way to put you off doing something if you are not careful, and sure enough I never quite began.
It wasn’t until a few years later, when I moved near to Dubai, that I finally took the plunge and started. The turning point was when listening to a podcast by ex-Navy Seal- David Goggins (look him up), where he was speaking about taking risks in life. He said “Instead of thinking about all the reasons why you can’t do something, ask yourself “What if you could? What if you achieved that impossible thing?” Again the thought crossed my mind, what if you could learn to play well? Crazy talk! But this time, I listened.
After a brief search of piano instruction in Dubai, I found S&C piano school and booked my first lesson with Stefan Joubert. I was, of course, excited and a little nervous. In my mind, I wondered “what will happen? Is the teacher patient? Will it be too difficult?” But thankfully, at the same time, I thought “What If I enjoy it? What if I can learn to play well?”
My first lesson was in Dubai (in a tall building) and getting into the place was not the easiest. I suspected that this was simply the first test of my commitment and that only the most dedicated students would make it up to the umpteenth floor and the studio! I was concerned that my lack of experience would be a hindrance- but I needn’t have worried. Upon sitting at the piano, and telling Stefan that my current musical knowledge was that of a chimpanzee, rather than be concerned, he was delighted! A blank slate in a new pianist is excellent as he says there are “no bad habits to iron out”.
Anyhow, 18 months later, I still have lessons, and I love it. I’m delighted I took the leap and began when I did. I can’t change the past, but I can focus on the present and be the best I can. I have not yet been booked to play in Jordan, but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time!
Remember- there are no rules to say when and how you should start or how musical you need to be. It doesn’t matter where or when you start, just get going. We all have doubts, but ask yourself one question.