The great thing about learning piano as an adult is that you get to pick what you play. That means that I avoided nursery rhymes when I first started off. Or so I thought.
A few weeks ago I was chatting with the garden writer and part-time singer Lia Leendertz about music. I was showing off my piano playing at her house, but was saying that I don’t yet class myself as a musician. The reason for this is because I am still heavily reliant on sheet music. I see loads of videos by people performing their covers of popular tunes that they have worked out by ear. This is a skill I’d love to have. At a recent lesson I asked my teacher if this is something that we can work on. So we decided to tackle a relatively simple song. Which is why a 36 year-old man spent 20 minutes trying to play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. I picked the key of A major at random and then had to work out how the tune went. It didn’t get off to a good start as I couldn’t find even the first 2 notes. Poking and hoping eventually got me started, and once I got going I found it relatively easy. Well the right hand that is. Next came the left. I had no idea how to start with this. The trick apparently is to work out the 1st, 4th and 5th chords of the key signature. In A major, these are 1st: A, 4th: D and 5th: E7 which is E G♯ B. Armed with these 3 it is just a case of trail and error to work out which chords go with which notes of the melody to sound good.
After the lesson I decided to pick a relatively simple song to try on my own. I wanted something that I actually licked to listen to so I picked I Cant Make You Love Me. This is a beautiful track that I’ve loved ever since I first heard it.
My first attempt saw me pick the wrong timing (3/4 instead of 4/4). I scribbled the notes down in pencil as I worked them out then wrote them up properly in the free to download: Musescore.
I didn’t get all the way to the end of the piece before my next lesson. Where my piano teacher pointed out that my crotchets should be quavers. After listening to the original track she also felt that I hadn’t quite got the chords right, so she recommended that I download the actual sheet music. Then start again on my own but using the chords only, from the original, and fill in the melody myself. So next time you see this piece again I’ll hopefully be playing my own version of it. But don’t hold your breath as with all the other stuff going on at the moment it might take some time to get to it.