The joke runs like this:
Question: Do you know how old I will be by the time I learn to play the piano?
Answer: The same age you’ll be if you don’t.
I posted on Facebook recently that it was never too late to be a beginner. A flood of “likes” came back to me. One woman wanted me to know that her dad had begun piano lessons at age seventy-six— and his lessons were going well. I began my own piano lessons when I turned sixty. At age sixty-five, I still considered myself a beginner, although my teacher said I had made great strides. Every week, I went to my lesson armed with a small notebook. In it, my teacher recorded the assignments of the week:
“Practice the C Major scale. Practice the G Major scale. Practice, period...”
I still take piano lessons. Every Thursday I show up at my lesson, bringing a record of the week’s practice to my teacher. I love my piano lessons. I am undoubtedly still a beginner, but I have made progress. And any progress is satisfying. As a child, I was considered one of the “non-musical” children in a large family, where three of my six siblings went on to become professional musicians. The piano was often “taken,” with one of my brothers or sisters playing more advanced pieces than I was capable of. I happily immersed myself in words and books, but a bit of me longed to be a part of the melodies that danced through the house. I have always loved a home filled with music. Today, even at my early stage of learning, it is thrilling to be the one adding music to my home.
Often, when we say it is “too late” for us to begin something, what we are really saying is that we aren’t willing to be a beginner. But when we are willing to dip our toe in, even just a little, we are rewarded with a sense of youthful wonder.