My wife tells people that I’m the most musical person she’s ever met who doesn’t play an instrument. It’s certainly not for lack of desire, nor a lack of trying, but I will admit it is for lack of persistence. I know I’m lazy, and that doesn’t help learning anything, but for me there’s something different about learning an instrument.
Take the piano for example. I tried to learn to play that thing 20 years ago in high school. Got a book, electronic keyboard, and tried to teach myself. A year after I started, I was shocked – SHOCKED – that I didn’t sound like this guy:
A couple years later I actually took some lessons with a teacher. 10 lessons later, I still didn’t sound like the above guy. Very disheartening.
Fast forward 10 years, and I started appreciating bass lines in songs, realizing I hum that part of a song more than any other part. Let’s learn bass! But … I didn’t sound like this guy:
What the heck?! Ok, so then this video game called Rock Band comes out, and people claimed you can really learn some good drumming fundamentals from it. I love prog rock, it’s drum heavy; I’ve got good rhythm, let’s do this.
But I can’t play like Phil and Chester.
Why is life so hard? All I want to do is play the piano, bass guitar, drums, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, violin/fiddle, flute, sax, clarinet, hammered dulcimer … what’s the big deal? This should be easy!
Alright, this has been quite tongue-in-cheek, but it really is somewhat acurate to what goes on in my head. I want to make music because I love the sound of good music. When you first learn an instrument, it sounds awful. I know this logically, but I can’t seem to get past this mental barrier: “Why am I trying so hard to sound this bad?” I have some natural artistic talents that I didn’t have to work hard at to look good initially, just to refine them to be even better. Playing music requires some kinesthetic skills that are not natural to me, so it requires more work. I don’t like work all that much (read: lazy). So, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I may never actually play any instrument.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to.
I suppose I could just be a singer in a band. However, I’m very embarrased if people hear me sing. Kind of like acting, I think I could only sing on stage if I was playing a character in costume. My dream is to one day sing Watcher of the Skies by Genesis, in costume (singing starts at 2:28):
So that’s another thing I’d rather be doing now, playing music.