Wee Scoops

Measure for Measure

Instrument Playing (but not the recorder)


Piano (Photo credit: esc861)

Take a complicated subject you know more about than most people, and explain it to a friend who knows nothing about it at all.

When I asked by fb friends for a topic on which they’d like to be enlightened, I was given the choice of “Instrument Playing, but not the recorder”, “Toddlers” and “Chorlton and the Wheelies”.

Chorlton and the Wheelies are a dim and distant memory, so although I don’t doubt its complexity as a topic, I can’t claim to be an authority.

The toddler phase was not one of my most triumphant phases, and I am banishing the tricky parts to distant memory as far as I am able.

I could tie this whole post up neatly by suggesting that toddlers should be given an instrument or a DVD of Chorlton and the Wheelies, should such a thing exist…

When I approach the “instrument” topic, all I hear from my subconscious is:

Great, Cliff! Which instruments to you want us to break? Piano? Violin! Digeridoo! Vivien’s Trousers! Rik’s head! Yeah, uh uh , Neil’s head, Cliff’s heaf? NO! NO!

I take mediocrity in all things musical to new levels of patchiness.

So, if you want to play instruments like me, here’s how you do it:


Have lessons for a couple of years and get to grade two, before thinking “meh” and giving it up. Meanwhile, steal your sister’s grade 4 music and teach yourself it using the basic principles picked up through those odd years of having a teacher so old, and with such heavy foundation, it was a wonder she didn’t crumble to dust before my very eyes. Make a friend who is beasting at the piano and play duets for fun at her house, like The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba. Make a point of learning that Richard Clayderman one and don’t forget to include a bit of Scott Joplin. The net result will be that you can still play the first few bars of some very cool stuff – but be unable to sight read UNLESS IT IS IN C.


This is better. Begin with cheapo lessons in school, before moving on to expensive lessons. You will find that this brings on the skill level no end. And practising also works. You may develop a weird hot-leg complaint which means that you have to play in bare feet on a cold floor or big red patches will appear as you play, but you’ll get over this by your mid to very late thirties when playing in bare feet on a weekly basis in the church doesn’t really appeal. Moving from the expensive teacher to a cheaper one will be a mistake as you may end up playing THE SAME TUNE over and over for a couple of years. Join a fiddle group and an orchestra. Get a better teacher. ย Learn some Bach and Vivaldi. Internalise a pile of ceilidh music which will prove to be a useful life skill. Try not to develop an aversion to tuneless worship songs as this may well end up being a substantial feature in your repertoire.


I do have one. I can’t play it.

Vivien’s trousers:

Anyway… moving on… I’ll leave the mandolin, the accordion, “Be thou my vision” on the bass guitar, the guitar and various other bits and pieces to your imagination.


I can play on my head (not Cliff’s). I inherited this enviable ๐Ÿ˜• skill from my Dad. We can do a mean Bach’s Double Violin Concerto – although we haven’t given it a go for a few years….

If the Cliff quote was outwith your cultural frame of reference, hit the YouTube:

Single Post Navigation

5 thoughts on “Instrument Playing (but not the recorder)

  1. I am intrigued now… I think you will have to post a You Tube clip of how to play on your head! ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. Pingback: Why Science is Hard to Learn. « 3rdculturechildren

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: