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!