I still feel guilty about the amount of money my parents paid in the hope of cultivating some musical talent in me. I have deep envy of people who can sit down at a piano and create beautiful music, although I am now mature enough to realise that ability usually develops from hard work and hours of dedicated practice.
For years I blamed my lack of musical ability on the style of teaching in those days, guaranteed to kill any pleasure one might have had in creating music. When I first started lessons, my hands were not big enough to span an octave, no matter how hard I tried. Frequently my teacher would pick up the ruler she kept behind the black notes and tap it lightly on her knee before tapping less lightly across my knuckles or slouching wrist. I did not enjoy my lessons with her.
My second teacher was really keen on promoting her tuition by entering her pupils in exams and Eisteddfods. The exams were terrifying, but at least you only had to play in front of one person. The Eisteddfods were a nightmare, probably even more so for my parents than me, as they sat there cringing while I stumbled my way through a simplified version of ‘Fur Elise’ or something along those lines. No matter how hard I’d practiced, there was a distinct blockage between my brain and my fingers.
My third and last teacher kept cats. Many many cats. As soon as you opened the door of her house the smell hit you. But when, as usual, I hadn’t practised my scales the whole week she was very easily distracted from the purpose of the lesson by a delicate enquiry into the health and wellbeing of her many feline friends. So not much progress was made with her.
But the bottom line is that I was a lazy little girl. I can make all the excuses in the world, but I can’t retrieve that lost opportunity. And now, as I blow the dust off my guitar, I realise not a lot has changed!