Moonlight Sonata

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I thought that, because I type relatively fast, my fingers would be nimble enough to play the piano.

Forget the fact that I'm completely tone-deaf. (Besides, isn't that a bit of an oxymoron and an unfair term? How are you supposed to know you can't carry a tune if you are tone-DEAF?!?) I had no reason to doubt my (in)abilities. After all, I type very well to the beat of anything from Miles Davis' "Round About Midnight" (forever blaring while I'm writing), to U2, to Rachmaninov's third.

Blame my typing lecturer. I went to one of those practical-training-is-far-more-important-than-volumes-of-theory kinds of colleges. (That was a big incentive for choosing it.) So, in the journalism department during our first semester, we learned one of the most helpful and useful skills to have when venturing out into the headlines and deadlines world of journalism: how to type.

Said lecturer was a rather robust lady. I think her secret fantasy was always to be a Major General in the South African Army. Unfortunately she was born just two decades too early for her advanced ambitions. She matriculated during those days when it was expected of girls to get married and to:
a) have as many babies as they could as soon as possible;
b) become career typists;
or, if they were very forward and insisted on furthering their education: c) go to college and become either a nurse or a teacher.

She must've been VERY stubborn, because she combined two of the above by becoming a typing teacher - who behaved more like a frustrated drill sergeant, mind you. By the time we crossed her career path, she had her teaching method down to a no-nonsense art.

She believed that the only way to teach a bunch of lazy, bored first year students the sequence of the letters on the keyboard, was to combine death threats with a cloth over the hands and the keyboards, pop Rossini's William Tell Overture into the radio, order us to type ASDF JKL'N (according to Afrikaans keyboards) over and over and keep up with the beat of the music.

Thanks to her threatening yet effective methods and the Tell Overture, all fifty students passed Typing 101 with flying colours, a 60+ wpm average AND the ability to type in perfect sync to the rhythm of any kind of music.

Unfortunately, that rhythmic connection between brain and fingers reserved for banging out letters on a keyboard is the only remote rhythmic talent I've been blessed with (as those of you who have been following this blog religiously --don't dare laugh! We all have our fantasies -- would know from reading about my near disastrous encounter with an Arthur Murray Dance School instructor).

Sadly, inability and lack of talent has never stopped me from at least trying something.

One night, plagued with insomnia and haunted by the boy's dusty piano in the basement, I ventured downstairs.

Minutes later, my fingers were stumbling over the keys. Hardly lyrical sounds emerged, but I'm tone deaf remember? So I was blissfully unaware of the cacophonic dissonance. As the minutes ticked by, I got braver and started fumbling with the flats and sharps.

Safely disguised from prying eyes (and not considering neighbouring ears), I got lost in a world in which I became a virtuoso performer with talent matching the likes of Alicia Keys, Elton John, Billy Joel and Diana Krall.

With the help of Piano for Dummies (great book, by the way) and loads of imagination, I managed a few chords. I had a fabulous time confusing fortissimo with pianissimo (not on purpose, I'm afraid). Prematurely, I attempted an ambitious jazz riff, and the Dummies book came crashing down onto my hands.

With my ego nearly as crushed as my fingers, I decided to take a break for a midnight cappuccino - seemingly the only Italian word I understand without any difficulty.

It's now been a few months since my nightly rendezvous with the instrument began. Unfortunately for the neighbours, I still haven't given up on trying to master at least one sweet melody.

Believe it or not, but there is some method in my madness: I want to prove that it's never too late to teach an old aging dog a new trick, or at least a new tune.

And although the dexterity my fingers so deftly display as I'm typing this hasn't yet emerged during my piano playing attempts, I genuinely enjoy myself when I'm down in that basement, tickling the keys in my own awkward way.

Strangely enough, but whenever I'm hunched over that piano - behaving like a very badly cloned Liberace (sans sequence and glitter) and hardly able to repeat two notes in a row - it makes me feel a little bit more in tune with myself. Isn't that what matters the most?

So perhaps then I've succeeded after all.



















about
is a South African girl living in South Africa. That doesn't sound very original, we know, but you might find it remotely interesting when you learn that she has only recently returned to South Africa for the first time after a nine year, one month and two week (non-stop!) stint in the United States where she accidentally became an outlawed alien (also known, especially in immigration circles, as an 'illegal immigrant.' We prefer the term 'outlawed alien' ourselves). During her reversed exile from her homeland, she kept herself occupied by winning this website (but only after shamelessly bribing the judges) and thus being unleashed on the web where she slowly, leisurely became the World's Laziest Blogger; by being a nanny and by attending sci-fi conventions in search of other aliens. In the US, she also made her sailing debut, her international acting debut, tried and failed to learn the piano, and never learned to cook. She is hopelessly addicted to coffee, dogs (especially Labrador Retrievers), how-to books (with a particular fondness for her copy of the Time/Life A - Z Medical Encyclopedia), and she tends to grossly overuse parentheses (we're not kidding) during her attempts at writing, which you may - if you really have masochistic tendencies - subject yourself to by reading the words to the right of this column. If you REALLY and truly STILL want to know more, you can read her C.V. here.
Or you can stalk her send her some love via e-mail at: redsaid[AT]gmail[DOT]com

The Wish List (Because yes, she really does need more how-to books. Honestly!)

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