I am not quite sure what happened, but my brain completely shut down at my piano lesson today. I was attempting to play Hey Jude. I am now in the 5th month of trying to learn how to play Hey Jude. Not even the melody. I’m talking about the ‘ easy piano’ version of the accompaniment. Made even easier by my teacher, Sara. I thought this might be a fun lesson since I had actually practiced. But the moment I sat down on her piano bench, that very moment, the shutdown occurred.
The keyboard looked bewildering to me, as if I had never seen it before. What were these white and black rectangles and what was I supposed to do with them? And the music, it didn’t make sense to me how 1 note could follow the other. I would play a chord and then I had no idea of how to move my hands to the other. My hands became foreign objects.
I just froze. Like it was some sort of bewildering trigonometry exercise. When in actuality, there was a f major chord, followed by a g minor chord and then a b flat chord and another f chord. I had played these chords thousands of times before, but never with the cognitive freeze I experienced at that moment.
And it was kind of humiliating. Sara was very kind. She actually blamed it on herself since she often sees this happening with her students. She said she wondered if there was something she was giving off that might be throwing her students off. And of course I said “no, it’s not you. It’s me.” I don’t think that line worked this time.
At the end of the lesson, she said that it was difficult with OUR aging brains (she included herself in this), they can’t process as quickly as they used to. And she’s at least 20 years younger than I. And of course I immediately thought, oh god, is it that obvious? That I’m aging? Is she being kind to a doddering old man? I told her that my brain has always processed information slowly. This was not anything new.
The wall I hit in my piano lesson was not all that different than the wall I hit when I was 16, completely frozen at the SAT tests, watching the clock, running out of time. Unable to read or write. And then the clock ran out.
So perhaps that is a good sign. It shows my brain is not really aging since it never really worked all that well when it was still relatively new.