I’m actually feeling a bit uncomfortable with the term, “non-musical.” That’s probably not possible for any human being. We are all born wanting to sing and dance. I believe this.
Things get complicated, however, when we try to teach music.
Do you know anyone who was traumatized or made to feel stupid as a child, thanks to piano lessons? I suspect you do. I took piano lessons and thrived, but I don’t actually know many adults who had a positive experience with childhood music lessons. I also don’t know many adults who still play instruments.
I’ve linked a great website here: Andy Guitar. Up at the top, I’ve also linked one of Andy’s fantastic lesson videos. Andy Crowley is a British guitar teacher who has an incredible series of free YouTube videos where you can learn to play the guitar. The lessons are terrific. In just a few lessons, you can start playing popular tunes. One of my younger kids discovered Andy when she decided that her lack of success with the piano didn’t necessarily mean that she wasn’t musical. We love music in our house, but it’s always been mystifying to me that none of my four children have wanted to play instruments the way that I did at their age.
I love keyboards. We own a couple of guitars, but I’ve always had problems with the callouses and the chords. Somehow, my head doesn’t cope with chords as readily as it does with melodies on a keyboard (am I making sense?). I’ve always had a bit of trouble with the sheer flexibility of chords. I like having a very definite melody to perfect. After explaining this to my daughter, she decided that perhaps the piano was the problem, not her lack of talent. After all, so many things have to “work” if you want to play the piano…fingering, notes, two hands at the same time, etc.
Enter the guitar. My daughter brought out one of the guitars, downloaded a tuning app, tuned it up, and then started to search YouTube for lessons.
Enter Andy. And not too many days afterwards, the strains of Abba and Taylor Swift were heard coming from the parlor.
My daughter will be the first to tell you that it isn’t easy. Her fingers hurt. And the instrument is big. She can’t sit in just any old chair. She needs a footstool. And tuning–she never had to tune the piano.
But she’s discovered that you only need to know a few chords in order to get started. She’s also discovered that it’s easier to sing along to guitar chords than to piano notes.
One of the best things about parenting happens when a kid teaches you something about a subject you thought you knew better than she did.