Piano Lessons

The little town I grew up in did not have any music schools. What it did often have, was a friend who knew someone who knew something about music. That friend would sometimes also know if the person they know are willing to teach you music in exchange for a small amount of money. When I was a young troublesome kid, my parents hired a tutor to teach me piano. He was extremely short, it almost looked like he could just disappear in a room if he so desired. I do not remember what his voice sounded like, but I suspect he rarely spoke. He was a trained keyboardist. I will also note that I do not throw the word "troublesome" around casually. If a thing could be broken, I would break it. If a creature was sleeping, I would wake it. If the house was being cleaned, I would make a polite mess.

My mom had sat through our first lesson, and while they weren't the most interesting 90 minutes of my day, there was nothing strikingly bad about them. I was told that he was going to teach me piano for 90 minutes every week. In the next lesson, he handed me some notes. He then proceeded to play the piano for about 20 minutes. I wasn't really the most patient kid, but I tried to listen quietly. I was looking forward to my turn. I was somewhat excited. It appeared that not only was I allowed to make as much noise as I wanted, but in fact, I was being encouraged to use tools to assist me in that endeavour. How amazing! There were many different buttons on this new toy. Imagine how much more noise you could make with litle effort! After what felt like a million lifetimes, my teacher stopped playing. He looked at me, yawned, and said "Here."

I settled in front of the piano. He went to a corner facing away from the piano and me and sat down in the most uncomfortable chair in the room. He put a newspaper on his face, which, I later figured, was a trick to filter the light. Now, when you are a chaotic kid like me, you know that adults sometimes try to trick you into not being chaotic. I thought maybe this was one such trick. It was important that you don't confront them in the midst of their tricks, or they would just deny it. Or worse, you would get in trouble for suspecting. Grown-ups didn't like it when their attempts failed. I thought all this and decided it best to ignore him for now. I began to play with the piano and make it emit sounds and noises. After a while, I heard some ugly noise that wasn't coming from the piano. I turned around and tracked it to the corner of where my piano teacher was sitting. He was snoring. The snores were pretty rhythmic and consistent, perhaps more so than anything that I played on the piano.

I looked at the clock. I had roughly 50 minutes left before my mom would come home. I looked at the teacher. He was now fast asleep. I looked at the door. I walked out of the room. I spent the next 40 minutes not playing piano. When I got back, I heard my mom's car in the driveway. It still evades me how, but that sound did wake my teacher. He checked in with me about how I did. Said I had a lot of potential, and should practice. He greeted my mom and said that he'd be back same time next week, and left.

A week passed by. He came back, followed the exact same process. I knew the drill this time, so I was more meticulous. I planned well to maximize play-time and minimise boring-piano-time. But having to sit through 20 minutes of someone playing the piano and just watching them was proving to be more and more difficult. Are you aware of how many adventures a child can have in 20 minutes? Sitting there quietly pretending to pay attention was getting harder and harder.

After a couple of weeks, a small innocent accident happened while I was running around the house. Someone had spilt some water in the kitchen, and I had slipped on it. I had hurt my elbow, and was crying loudly. My mom picked me up, tried to make me stop crying, and in these attempts, she offered chocolates, toys, and anything and everything I liked. Nothing worked. Finally, she said "we can go to the park tomorrow when I get back from work", and I responded, sobbing, "but I have the piano lesson tomorrow." To this, my mom said, "Hm, how about we can skip it for a day?" and I said "How about we skip it forever?" and she said "Alright".

And that is the story of my first failed attempt at acquiring training in music.*

*While this is how things appeared to me at the time, what really happened was that my parents had tasked a babysitter, who was a kind kind lady -- always making sure I don't endanger any lives with my hooliganism, yet, never coming in my way -- with keeping an eye on me until they got back from work. She had witnessed all of this the first time it happened and had reported it all to my parents. They were going to have a talk with the tutor and likely cancel the lessons anyway.