I love playing the piano. While probably not my most controversial opinion, it is something I’m passionate about.
Interestingly enough, I took four years of piano lessons when I was younger and I still don’t know how to read sheet music. I also have no intention of ever learning.
Every single thing I have learned on the piano has been entirely by ear. I have an extremely basic understanding of music theory and chord structure, enough to barely make it look like I know what I’m talking about. However, the majority of my piano playing ability comes from my hidden superpower of being able to play almost any song entirely by ear within minutes of hearing it.
Now, I know what you are thinking: if it’s something I’m good at, why wouldn’t I want to do everything I could to improve that skill (such as perhaps learning how to read sheet music)?
My refusal is mostly due to the potential damage to my undying love of the piano.
Playing by ear allows me to just sit down and automatically know where all the notes are. I may have to do some guesswork on more complicated songs, but overall it tends to be very easy for me.
If I forced myself to learn sheet music, sure I might be able to accomplish more, but then I would be adding difficulty to an area of my life where there previously wasn’t any.
Playing the piano comes easy to me. There aren’t a lot of things that come easy to me. I am terrible at literally every single sport that exists.
I can’t throw a football to save my life, I suck at basketball and I am so terrible at bowling that every time I go I try to convince people it should be scored like golf where the lowest score wins.
I can’t draw anything more artistically challenging than a stick figure, I have trouble comprehending any math beyond basic algebra, and I even suck at playing “Call of Duty.”
Now it is true all of these things are things that I could improve in if I actually put in the effort. However, the fact is I have zero interest in any of these things. The only reason I ever even try is to make other people happy.
However, I don’t play piano for other people. I play it for me and me alone. I happen to be really good at it, and some people like listening to it, but I don’t play it for them. I play it because I enjoy everything about it.
I love the ease at which my fingers can find notes, even if I just heard the song. I love the beautiful melodies that can be produced once these pop songs are divorced from the overly obnoxious pop singers. I love writing my own music and creating my own entertainment.
I am not a fan of sports in general. I don’t really enjoy watching them, I don’t really enjoy playing them (because I am always consistently the one who sucks the most in any given sport), they just aren’t my thing. I realize I may have to revoke my man card for that, but sorry, I just don’t care about sports.
Yet music is a field that fascinates me. All music, even bad music, is enjoyable to someone, otherwise it would have never been created. One of my many superpowers is the ability to isolate the enjoyable factors of a song, while ignoring the failures of it.
That is yet another reason I love the piano. The number one failure of pop music in general is the lyrics. They are usually empty, meaningless, and often dumb.
Yet once you get rid of the lyrics, the terrible autotuned singer, or all the other nonsense, what you are left are beautiful melodies, that are actually much more enjoyable.
Probably one of the things I love the most about playing the piano is that it relaxes me. Everything else in my life, I have to think about. There’s worry, there’s stress, there are obligations. But none of that exists on a piano. The only thing that exists is music.
Everything else in my life is judged and graded. My schoolwork is literally graded, my lack of ability to play sports is the constant subject of (friendly) ridicule, and oftentimes when I fail at things that seem so easy to others I judge myself.
Yet, when I sit down at the piano, I can just do it. So many other things in my life are a constant struggle just to reach last place. Yet, at a piano, suddenly everything is easy.
I love the piano because every time I sit down to play it, I know I can and will create something beautiful.
Mike Rauser is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]