I’ll always remember one particular Irish class when I was 15. I was daydreaming - humming the bass line of U2’s With Or Without You in my head.
Not trying to see the notes on a stave, which was the extent of my musical education up to that, but trying to sing them (in my silent voice!) and figure out how they fit onto the major scale.
The first one – OK that sounds like it’s the home note of the song – so it must be doh. So if that is doh, what is the second one? Sing the first note, then the second one, back to the first one and try and sing down note by note to the second…doh, ti, lah, soh - soh – is it soh? - It’s SOH! Then sing back up to the next one –it’s Lah, then Fah…wow this is a m a z i n g!
I’ll never forget the feeling when I got up to a piano after class and it confirmed to me that I was right, and with this discovery began my journey into playing piano by ear.
Last night I read my daughter a story about Alicia Alonso – a Cuban ballet dancer who, with the help of her husband, learned to dance the iconic part of Giselle in her head while lying in bed recovering from eye surgery. She performed the piece in a prestigious production in New York soon after.
Now I’m not claiming there is any sort of a comparison to be made between my teenage breakthrough and Ms. Alonso’s extraordinary feat, but either way there’s no denying that our minds are remarkable.