Is it hard?
It’s hard to teach anyone to play a piano. The piano has been around as long as the human race has existed. The human brain is a complicated machine which has learned what music’s sounds are because of that training, and it just wants people to understand those sounds, so it gets them started, in a natural, human way. But most people don’t start learning to play because they’ve got a piano set. In fact, if your family has a piano set, you can almost hear them singing the word to the tune of “Greensleeves” at every single piano lesson you’ve ever been to.
Do you know how to teach someone else to play a piano?
I used to teach myself. I was a good pianist, but I didn’t want to be one of those bad little beginners who wouldn’t get anything right. So one day I sat in on the class I was teaching, and I didn’t really get anything going. I started learning one way at a time, over a period of three months. I was pretty much stuck: I couldn’t do all the techniques or all the pieces that I had been taught. So, the professor said, “We are going to switch this course and switch this course. You’re going to learn all the pieces that we’ve covered and then you’re going to do a lesson where you learn two new pieces, and then you repeat that.” And that, essentially (after a while) I just went from bad pianist to good one.
You probably didn’t even know what music was.
I had no idea what the world was all about! So I taught myself through trial and error — mostly, my girlfriend, who was like, “What if I can’t play notes on my piano?” — and eventually I learned to actually play and study it. And in the meantime, I had to take piano lessons, for the next few years, and that’s how I got good at it, and I was able to pass out the notes I had memorized.
Did you know what a “cobweb” was when you started playing the piano?
Oh yes! I was playing around with [it] for a while. It’s something called a harpsichord, and you’re kind of using a string to pull it back and forth against those vibrations. You’re playing a particular note, and the vibrations pull the strings behind the notes. In a sense, these vibrations
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