Last night was one of those nights. Far away from the bright lights of a big theatre stage, there were only 13 of us in the room. But there was a piano, and there was magic.
You see, last September a group of adults took a risk and signed up for a course of piano and music appreciation classes I was offering. It was a risk because it was a brand-new course, created over the summer to cater for the huge response I got from adults looking to learn how to play piano after publishing this blog last July.
And every second Tuesday evening since then we have met up, in two distinct groups, and have worked hard together on becoming better piano players, and to have a better understanding of how music works. Students have had access to a growing library of song-based tuition videos such as this one, and between the videos and the classes, have steadily applied themselves and improved bit by bit.
So last night was the end-of-term concert, and everyone that came played or made an attempt to play. The deal was that you could play anything, and as much or as little of it as you liked. You could accompany yourself singing or play solo piano. For many it was the first time to play publicly in a long time, or ever, and hence there was a lot of nervous energy in the room.
And this is what created the magic, because it was channeled in the most positive way towards others in the group.
And it was gratefully received, because it was genuinely difficult for some people. One student’s hands were visibly shaking as she played, not that you would have known it if you had your eyes closed. Some others couldn’t finish the piece they started, but they tried. Another student had written words to the song Leader of The Band to mark the passing of her father earlier this year. And others were disappointed with how they played, but will learn from the experience and be better next time.
People hung around afterwards, and it was great to hear each person’s individual story on what playing piano had brought to their lives. Many remarked on how nice it was to meet other like-minded people who were in a similar boat to themselves. And it was genuinely special to see each person get out of their comfort zone and challenge themselves.
I learned that these courses ideally suit people who have had music or the piano as a significant part of their lives previously in some way and now want to reconnect with it. It is more difficult for beginners, but that being said some complete beginners got stuck in and surprised me with how well they performed last night. And once again it was proved to me that there are few better feelings than being in a room with good people supporting each other making good music.
The classes will run again in early 2020, and will include a special emphasis this time on how to play as an accompanist – be it to yourself, to another singer, or to an instrumentalist. More details here.