Oh yes, baby, the author has all his own teeth! He keeps nothing in a jar by his bedside, or at least nothing that need trouble us here (my bedside jar habits will remain a secret for a while longer), and despite his antiquity continues to chew all his own food. In fact, thanks to a few years of wearing a brace as a youth, his bite is rather more even than nature intended: though his teeth would still be viewed with horror by many American readers as more appropriate furnishings for the gaping maw of a hideously deformed orc than a modern human.
However, I have not invited you all here to discuss the merits (or otherwise) of my enamelled choppers. Nor am I planning to unmask the murderer hidden in your midst at this stage – it is traditional to thin out the cast/readership rather more before nabbing the villain in the final act.
This post was inspired by a story I half read (OK, it was a very small half – more a longish headline – that I read) about the fact that it is never too late to learn. I think this insight may have arrived via Facebook and BBC6 Music, but I wouldn’t swear to it. Given my own attempts to acquire new skills into my fifties, I can offer at least some anecdotal evidence in support of the claim – though I suspect it may already be too late to acquire some new skills even now. I don’t have high hopes for fluency in Khoisian languages or any Chinese dialect: denied by neural pruning that happened half a century back.
The story/headline went further to aver that anyone could learn to play Bach in 6 weeks. I am assuming we are referring to JS here, rather than CPE or, indeed, Barbara. This interested me as I have just made a start on JSB’s Invention in A Minor (BWV784) in my re-training as a concert pianist. I’ll admit that the full 6 weeks have yet to elapse, but I am not currently forecasting practical mastery of the piece by that stage. There will have been progress, but I suspect even with far more diligent and regular (even continuous) practice the first 42 days of this project will be long gone before I feel that I have ‘learned Bach’. This is a tad galling as I started this process with a number of relevant skills already under my belt in that I could already read music and play the piano at approaching a Grade 6 standard: that someone lacking this background could surpass me so quickly does rather make me wish I’d read the article to understand where I’m going wrong.
Despite my slower than normal progress with Bach, my skills at the piano do progress rather nicely. I may successfully absorb only a limited percentage of the knowledge my piano teacher seeks to impart at each lesson, but this still accumulates and my level of practice means my motor skills are also improving. This has, perhaps, led to a degree of hubris afflicting the author.
At a recent piano recital, I was enjoying the start of Beethoven’s Fifteen Variations and Fugue in E Flat (Opus 35) and thinking to myself that the piece seemed potentially tractable. This delusion did not survive very far into the piece as its perceived difficulty ramped up rather dramatically. I suppose this should surprise no-one as we know all now that pride comes before a fall – which I presume explains the late August timing of our annual, local LGBTQIA+ celebration. Nevertheless, I have been inspired to attempt to gain mastery of the piano accompaniment of at least one of the pieces I am trying to sing. This would allow me to act as my own accompanist for the first time (which is only slightly onanistic) and paves the way for a new career as a singer-songwriter. Admittedly, I have yet to write a song – but I have produced a parody (on Ghostbusters) and three poems in the last month, so it can only be a matter of time… I must also admit that my singing has been a tad neglected of late, and for nothing like a score of years, but I am determined to deny the world my sonorous (or at least loud) bass no longer!
This same recital was noteworthy for the world-class coughing from the audience. One member’s eructive expulsions of phlegm, in particular, were of a truly spectacular sonic nature and in days of yore he could have profitably toured the Music Halls or Vaudeville circuit as a speciality act.
I will not insult you by explaining the title, but instead retire to the piano with voice and fingers in some semblance of harmony.