Wednesday, May 24, 2006

A.R. Rehman, here I come!

Just like my long-time dream of learning French (which I finally fulfilled about three years back), another long-time dream of mine has been to be able to play the keyboard. I was never musically gifted. Sure, I love listening to music. But my short stint at learning Carnatic music sometime during my childhood convinced my parents that, unfortunate though it was, the next M.S. Subbulakshmi was definitely not going to emerge from our household. Still, I harbored hopes of at least mastering some musical instrument. For a time, I thought of learning to play the veena (my cousin S, who was learning to play the veena at that time was the inspiration behind this). However, this thought was never backed by solid action.

Next, my instrument of choice became the keyboard. The very first keyboard I learnt to play was a miniature toy "piano" bought during a trip to Darjeeling. Most of you must know what I am talking about. The mini-piano had exactly 7 keys in it which were numbered. It came with an instruction sheet which told you which numbers pressed in which order would produce the tune of which nursery rhyme. Within a few days, I became very accomplished at playing demanding pieces like Happy Birthday to You (1-1-2-1-4-3), London Bridge is Falling Down (5-6-5-4-3-4-5), Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star (1-1-5-5-6-6-5) - yeah, such an expert I was that till date I can still remember the number combinations! However, knowing a total of 5 nursery rhymes on a 7-keyed mini-piano doth not a musician make! My actual musical talents still only extended to appreciating good music.

When I was in my ninth standard, I decided that that would be the year in which I finally learnt to play the keyboard. The Tamil movie Roja had released around then and all that magical music in the movie apparently came mainly from a keyboard! I had to know for myself.To this end, I coaxed, cajoled and nagged dad till he agreed to buy a keyboard for me. After all, my heartfelt declarations of becoming the next A.R. Rehman if only I knew how to play the keyboard had to have some effect ;-)!

The keyboard arrived - an nice Yamaha keyboard - all the way from Singapore. For quite a few weeks, it was the cynosure of all eyes. I admired it. All guests to our house were treated to the splendid view by me too. My cousins turned green with envy and I was busy showing off the various mixers, sound effects etc. which came with it. Only one minor glitch - I still did not know how to play it.

By now I had run out of excuses as to why I had still not learnt to play the keyboard. I guess it all boiled down to me being too lazy to hunt for a class and join it. Anyways, after getting star treatment for quite sometime, the keyboard finally became a part of the room decoration (kamre ki shobha badathi hai types).

So, recently, when I found that the Adult Education Center quite close to my house offered keyboard classes at convenient timings, you can imagine how excited I was. Here, finally, was the chance I had been waiting for all along. I promptly registered. Today was the first class. Our teacher is an elderly lady - but she is very sweet and patient and seems to have a genuine passion for teaching and music. We had an hour of theory followed by an hour of practice.

In the theory class, I learnt a lot of musical jargon. Now I can throw around words like G-clef, octave, whole notes, bass, measure, legato etc. etc. with gay abandon :-). Even as the class progressed, I was feeling sooooo good :-). A long-time dream beginning to come true. Yaaay!

During the practice session, we got a piano each to practise on. The instructor walked up to each student individually and gave tips. When she came to my piano, she went "My, you have nice long fingers, dear. Ideal for playing the piano." And immediately, out of the blue, a scene from the Tamil movie Singaravelan in which Kamal, in order to butter up Manorama, looks at her hands and asks "You have such beautiful fingers. Do you play the veena?" and then taps each of her fingers with a "ding, ding, ding, dong" sound, popped into my head and I had to resist a sudden urge to laugh. But it felt good to know that at least something was right. I could play decently enough one hand at a time. But together, my hands got thoroughly confused and wound up messing up :-(. Sigh! I need a lot of practice.

But - I am finally on my way :-D. A.R. Rehman, watch out ;-P!


Saranya Kishore said...

Hey Arch, Very nice! err...are you looking for a keyboard to buy? One is with me, 'adding shoba' to my apartment here :)
And funny about the numbers for songs, ;), coincidentally, I had touched my keyboard after a lonnnng time last weekend, and I remembered the notes, byheart, but my hands wouldnt cooperate! :( Now I need practice too. How I miss music in my life :(

T said...

good luck ! assuming you dont have the natural ability for playing it, you need ton's of time to practice ... you will learn more every day as long as you enjoy learning and playing the keyboard.
my attempt with guitar dint go anywhere. not that I dint enjoy it but I just couldnt devote the time it needed. Maybe someday in later parts of my life I will be able to.

you should record some of your attempts in learning/playing and put it up here as an audiopost.. I am sure that would be lots of fun :-).
atleast to us ;)

kuttichuvaru said...

I used to play Violin for abt 4 yrs, then coz of career issues n laziness, didnt continue... now its abt 6 to 7 yrs since I went bak to it.... gud luck with ur Keyboard practice, n send me ur autograph now itself, coz wen u become a big-shot with ARR, maybe I
cant get it!!

btw, I luv the first half of Singaravelan jus for the comedy!!

dinesh said...

Nice to know you're learning something new ! It's never too late they say. I tried my hand at guitar with moderate success. It's only hard to get back to it, when you're busy with other things. Good luck !

Archana Bahuguna said...

Good that you are finally doing what you wanted to for long ... enjoy your learning and stick to it gal! :-)

As for me, hee haw ... the only experience of a keyboard I have is of the one that belongs to my 11 year old cousin. :-) Whenever I go to my mama's place and find her playing the keyboard (which is a small one),I sneak in a couple of times and try my hands at it. Haa! Recently here, I joined a drum circle (went only for 2 days :-)) and tried my hands at drums. I was bad at them, but really the experience was great. :-) :-)

Thanu said...

I have this kid of love towards guitar...
Finally bought a guitar, 1st week took online classes... now just accumulating dust.

Note to self: Register for a real class soon.

Prabhu said...

Singaravelan Comedy LOL :)
Next time nee keyboard vaasikkaracha - antha "sottai thaathaa" kadhi nadanthuda porathu :)
Me too had a brief stint with Guitar (along with Dinesh), got to know the different notes, learnt the "Mary had a Little Lamb, lil lmb, LL" tune, and then laziness caught up! :(

If your last name starts with an R, ARchana Rxxxx is already an ARR in the making!
Finally, I second T to put up an audio post with keyboard and your vocal singing as well, that would be fun (for us, that is :)

Anonymous said...


I was great at that too; in fact I was so good, my 4th std. girl classmates would sit around me when I "played my music".

Who da the Rahman now?



PRIDERA said...

Good luck with your classes. It was A.R. Rehman and Roja for you while it was Ek Do Teen (Tezaab song) for me a reason enough to buy an instrument. I bought a Banjo and loved playing on it !

Shilpa said...

Hail oh great keyboard player !!

When you release your musical ' cds'...dont forget to send me a 'free copy' with your autograph !

Nyways, Good Luck...keep practising like a good girl.

Hey SK, maybe if are not really using the keyboard...u can sell/lend to Archu :-)

Archana Bahuguna said...

btw, just saw on ur site what u been reading ... incidently, i am also reading "God's debris" ... its very interesting ...

ROBBIE said...

Very true! I have also yearned to learn music all my life but havent ever got around to doing it myself. Kudos to you for trying. I am very lucky these days to have a friend who is very musically gifted. We came up with a unique idea yesterday and I ended up reciting one of bharati's poems and he composed the music to it. It has come out really nice, check out 'Resilience" on my blogsite (

Archana said...

Hey Saranya, if you have a five octave keyboard for sale, I would be very happy to buy it :-D! Oh, you know how to play the keyboard? Wow!

T, I agree. I definitely need lots and lots of practise. Since I am learning it purely of my own accord, I have every good intention of doing it right (at least try to!). Adhu seri - you did not find any other means of enjoyment is it? Cha X-(!

Kuttichuvaru - LOL - sure autograph ellam definetaa kidaikkum - as long as you don't demand a share in profits too ;-)!

Dinesh - that's true. Sometimes it is so hard to find time to do something we really like. I guess we shd probably force ourselves to make time!

Archana - thank you :-)! I can't resist running my fingers across the keys whenever I see a piano or keyboard :-D! What is a drum circle?

Thanu - registered? Guitar - hmm, maybe next :-)!

Prabhu - Mary had a little lamb? LOL :-)! Ah, you shd take it up again! Nopes, last name does not start with a R. Hmm, if only getting to be ARR was that easy ;-)! Edhukku special audio post? When I become famous all tea-kadai's will be playing my songs - you can listen then...hehehhe ;-P!

Anon2 - wowwww! Another child-musician ;-)!

Pridera - thank you :-)! You play the banjo? Wow!

Shilpa - unakku illadha autograph-aa! Thanks for putting petition to Saranya on my behalf ;-)!

Archana - I started reading it but it's currently on hold :-(. But it sure started off interesting!

Robbie - thank you! That's cool :-). Will listen to it and post my comment!

Rohit Mordani said...

Hey - do you still have that small piano sheet that had the numbers for the tones? I would like to get a hold of the numbers (entire songs). I have an iphone app called mini piano and it too has the 7 keys that the mini piano used to have (yes - I guess we all owned that at some point in our lives). I want to play around with the new iphone app so was wondering if you can send me the entire list with the numbers

My email add. is

Mini Keyboard Piano said...

The very first keyboard I learnt to play was a miniature toy "piano" bought ...