Off the Record
My fingers froze on my keyboard. With more than 30 pairs of eyes looking on expectedly, I started sweating bullets.
Now I am somewhat of an alright piano player, who can bluff his way through songs upon hearing them. It’s a nice skill to have as it clearly has mystified a lot of people and, to my delight, made me appear to be some sort of music magician to a lot of people and, to my even bigger delight, especially the womenfolk.
You musicians would know what I’m talking about. Put a couple of chords together, move between them seamlessly and tinkle a few melody notes, or even better, sing a little melody, and you’ve hooked them. Oh and close your eyes. You GOTTA close your eyes. It drives them wild.
I’ve done this trick dozens of times in parties, Hari Raya open houses, impromptu jam sessions and more. And so I’ve built up a pretty good ear for playing songs, well, by ear.
And so when this 30 or so people assembled around me in my office, wanting me to play so they can wail along at the top of their voices, I approached my keyboard with the most confident swagger ever, presuming that I would wow them.
But I did not realize one thing. The group surrounding me excitedly were 12-year-old girls from my daughter’s class who came to visit. And 12-year-old girls would only know the latest hits. A 39-year-old guy like me….well….
I sat down in front of my keyboard, expecting someone to yell out “Hotel California!” or “Wonderful Tonight!”.
As I put my fingers on the keyboard, a sweet little girl said, “Uncle, can you play Taylor Swift?”
Oh…my….god….I haven’t really heard her songs before……
I smiled weakly and played a few chords which were obviously not the song as nobody knew when to start singing. The kids were getting impatient. Some looked at their watches. I daren’t look at my daughter’s face as I didn’t want to see her disappointed that her dad didn’t live up to her expectations.
Luckily a girl said she’s got Taylor Swift in her phone and started playing the hit song. Quickly, I followed along and once I got the hang of the chords I cranked up the volume of the keyboard, as everybody sang along.
Somehow I muddled through. Even though it was a really uncomfortable performance, everyone sang loudly, masking all the wrong chords I was playing.
The group said their polite goodbyes and left to continue the tour. As they were going out a girl turned to my daughter and said, “Your dad’s SO cool.” My daughter’s smile was the sweetest I’ve seen.
Phew. That was the HARDEST gig I’ve ever done.