A Tribute To My Dad Who Introduced Me To Learning To Play Piano

4 April 2013

DadEaster means something different to each of us. For many, it’s an opportunity to spend time with family, though this year my family’s Easter was somewhat different.


My Dad, a retired doctor, sadly passed away on Saturday 23 March in the early hours of the morning after a long battle with cancer. So, my wife and I travelled down to Melbourne for the week leading up to Easter to be with my Mum and my brother and his wife, and to attend my Dad’s funeral which was held on the Wednesday 27 March (just prior to the Easter weekend).


My brother and I each delivered a eulogy at the funeral, in which we spoke about Dad, his life, what he meant to us, and some of the things we learned from him.


In particular, the process of preparing for the eulogy gave me the opportunity to reflect on just how much Dad did for us as kids.


I often say or write that I had three piano teachers, which in the formal sense is correct, but really I had four.

My first piano teacher, the person who first introduced me to learning to play piano, was Dad.


Though he was not a pianist by any stretch of the imagination, he did have a profound love of music, and one of the things he enjoyed doing was picking out tunes by ear on the piano, and teaching himself simple tunes from some keyboard books, which somehow he had figured out how to read.


I remember at age 6, my Dad, trying to show me by rote (he would play and I would try to copy him) how to play “Silent Night” on the piano. And shortly thereafter, the first tune he attempted to teach me properly (including reading the sheet music) was “Two Lovely Black Eyes” (an old pub song with interesting lyrics).

Ah, what dizzying musical heights we achieved!


Granted, I was a terrible student, and to some extent, his teaching was a case of the blind leading the blind. Yet those early floundering attempts of his to teach, and of me to learn to play the piano, led not long afterwards to me commencing formal piano lessons once a week in our living room with a very pleasant local piano teacher, a Ms. Burke. (Believe it or not, I never knew her first name).


And from those humble beginnings, I developed a life-long love of playing the piano, as well as for the process of learning to play piano. Learning to play was, for me, not just an enjoyable pastime, but an invigorating form of self-development. I could feel it was doing me good. I could sense the numerous benefits that come from learning to play piano, such as the development of eye-mind-hand coordination, and the development of self-confidence.


But having said that — few things in this life that are worth doing are ever easy. And, truth be told, there were several (about five) significant stages when I wanted to quit. But my Dad, while always quietly encouraging, would never let me quit.


Perhaps learning to play piano was something he didn’t have the opportunity to do when he was a child, or perhaps he saw an inkling of talent in me that he felt was worth nurturing. Or maybe he could see how learning to play piano was benefiting me.


Whatever his thinking — in my view, one of the best things my Dad did for me in addition to starting me on piano lessons was NOT letting me give up.


In so doing, he not only gave me the life-long gift of music, and the ability to play and teach piano — he also taught me persistence.


And one other simple but important lesson Dad taught me as a child was, as he said to me one day, “never put off until tomorrow what you can do today”.


Life is short, so if there is something you really want to do — maybe you want to tell someone you love them, maybe you want to take up learning to play piano — whatever it may be… do it today!


These are some of the things I learnt from my Dad, and I was lucky to have him.


So I say, thanks Dad for everything.


With much love —


Rest in peace,





Posted in: Learning To Play Piano, Piano Lessons For Adults, Piano Lessons For Kids




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