30 day song challenge, day 26: a song you can play on an instrument

Aside from being able to carry a fairly decent tune, I have no musical ability whatsoever. I think there are just some things we don’t have the skills for, even with practice. In junior high school, I had to take a music class in which we learned to play the recorder. We also learned how to read music. I never had any trouble learning to read English, but in attempting to learn to read music, I knew what it must feel like to be functionally illiterate in some language. I say “attempting” because I failed. I never could get it. I knew what a C-note was but I could never translate that to the proper sound on the instrument in any reasonable fashion. And I could never figure out the tempo part. I was awful. In fact, for one test, we had to play some song that I’ve forgotten. The idea was we would read the music off of the sheet and play the song, but the truth is that I memorized the finger motions and did it that way. If the teacher had swapped out songs at the last minute, I would have been helpless.

So it is a little surprising to me that at one point, I did learn to play a song and pretty darn well too. That song was:

Jump by Van Halen

A friend of mine who lived in the same complex as my grandparents had been blessed with a lot more musical talent than I had. (When that particular talent was handed out, I was skipped and he got a double-helping.) He also happened to have a very nice electronic keyboard. He taught me how to play that song on the keyboard, chords and all. It was entirely muscle memory, lots and lots of practice and not a single piece of sheet music to be seen anywhere. But for a long time, I could play the entire keyboard portion of that song and that was pretty cool.

Ask me to do it now and I probably couldn’t play a note. I was not made to be a musician.


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