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Playing it up at the farmette

It's another grey, mild day in Grey County. I don't think we've seen any sun for a couple of months. Okay, maybe briefly for an hour on a Tuesday. Anyhow.

To lighten things up, especially in the depths of the pandemic, I decided to go back to the piano. It was the summer of 2021, and I am so glad I bit the bullet and bought this little beauty in Owen Sound for my birthday.

It had been an astonishing 44 years since I gave up lessons and playing altogether. Being a 14 year old and getting into the angsty, impatient years of youth, I think both my teacher Kay Chamberlain and I had had enough after seven years of lessons. Don't get me wrong. She was amazing and patient and kind. Besides teaching recalcitrant children and teenagers how to play, she had a big family, and when I was her pupil, she had a wee baby in diapers - the afterthought after four older children!

But back to the present. I found an amazing app called Simply Piano, plunked it on my iPad and it's been a joy ever since. While playing piano isn't quite like riding a bike, it didn't take me long to remember the basics, and the lessons were easy to follow. It helped that I realized I'd never be on the level of Rachmaninoff or Gould. I just wanted to be able to entertain myself and Rob and the cats, really.

What I did not expect was to enjoy the really old tunes so much. Simply Piano has a wide selection of everything from classical to rock, pop and world music. But I found I gravitated like a magnet to the 1930s, 40s and '50s era.

This is the "play" page that comes up on the screen. While you can't really read it, my recently played (yesterday) list has Hoagy Carmichael, Nat King Cole and Spencer Williams. Recommendations from the app include Billie Holiday, George Gershwin and Irving Berlin.

I also love to play Ella Fitzgerald tunes - Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered is a favourite.

When I'm in the mood, I can veer over into other genres. Show tunes like John Kander's music - Cabaret from the show of the same name (I can just imagine Liza belting it out) and All That Jazz from Chicago get a workout at least once a week. And I do plink out the odd rock song - Queen or Bowie or Coldplay.

Playing is ALWAYS a pick-me-up. And it's been a life saver these past few weeks when I've felt so rotten from this cold. I try and sit down at the piano every day now. Usually late afternoon just before the fur balls get fed.

So grateful to be able to pick out a few tunes for a blissful half-hour or so. Until next week.

Gratuitous cat photo courtesy of the cuddly orange tabbies Calvin (front) and Hobbes. If you look closely, there are Fred legs under the chair.


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