…and what of the birthday challenge? When I was 50 – was I ever that young? – I learnt to play the saxophone – it proved to be a challenge and an interest and it gave me a great deal of pleasure, playing in the school band, doing concerts in Greece, Dublin and France with the same bunch of music loving, very talented children and young people. Far more musical than I’ll ever be – ok, that may not seem a great deal when you consider I am tone deaf – I even have to hear the words of ‘God save the Queen’ to recognise that tune.
‘Name that tune in three’ doesn’t exist for me – ‘name that tune in any number you choose, if it hasn’t got words isn’t possible for yours truly. And as for a sense of rhythm – well put it this way – you wouldn’t want me as the drummer in your band.
So my 70th birthday challenge is to learn to play the accordion…
and let me tell you its not easy. The french seem to teach only the Button accordion – I wasn’t given a choice. Not that I think the piano accordion would be any easier.
The lady who teaches me is small and rotund with twinkling eyes – she has not a word of English and my pronunciation of french is so poor that conversation between us is at a minimum. The lessons are however, a laugh a minute. She is forever having to tap my left wrist – it’s not curved enough in the correct position, or she taps my right thumb often with her pencil because its not sliding up or down the side of the accordion… and all the time she is beating time with her other hand on her knee…
She is really a one man band.
And as for what she thinks of a seventy year old with little or no sense of rhythm trying to learn to play the accordion I suppose I’ll never know.
How can I explain that all I want to be able to do, is play some simple waltz tunes and ‘After the ball is over.’
I’m giving it a year – a year of a lesson nearly every week and a year of renting the accordion. And if I can play a waltz here in the privacy of the loft by next February, I shall be ecstatic!
Ah, if only I knew a little more what all these squiggles meant, and if only I could do a different thing with each hand, and read the music and pull and push the bellows at the same time…