A Forever Gift

When I think about the things that have been given to me over the course of my life, I’m struck with the realization that I’ve forgotten the vast majority–I mean the vast majority–of those them.  

I don’t know what I got for my 11th birthday.  No clue.  Honestly, I’m not sure I remember everything I was given for my 56th birthday, and that was just last month.  

Christmas of 2006?  I’ll bite…what?

Graduation gifts?  It’s safe to say someone gave me money (well, for high school), but I don’t remember anything about it.  Wedding gifts? I remember a few.  Fathers Day? I’m sorry, but no.

I don’t think I’m alone here.  I mean, we’re given stuff all the time.  We receive it, we’re thankful for it, and then we let it go.  I don’t remember all that I’ve given, either.  We get, we give, and most of the time we forget.  For better or worse.

The other day, though, I was struck by the awesomeness of one of the things I’ve been given.  Truth be told, I don’t remember the circumstances of the giving, or even to whom I owe the earliest thanks.  I just remember the gift, and how appreciative I am for it.

It came to my mind while I was standing in a music store late last week.  I was shopping for a MIDI controller.  Why I was shopping for a MIDI controller is another story, but that’s what I was doing.  (For those who might not know, a MIDI controller is–in essence–a keyboard for a computer.  A keyboard that looks and functions like a piano keyboard, not a computer keyboard.  It’s used to input data such as notes and triggers for electronic music.)

Now, I’m not a piano player, and the only claim I have to being a keyboardist is the ability to type with all ten fingers, even though my left thumb is only used rarely.  That said, as I was testing the controller (a mere formality, since I’m only getting started with electronic music), I played a few chords in the key of C, specifically the C, F, and G chords.  

Why those chords?  Well, they don’t require me to use the black keys, and they’re usually some of the first chords a beginner learns on the piano.  Also, I knew that the “I, IV, and V” chords (Roman numerals) are the primary chords in any key, and I knew that those major chords are made of the up of the 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes in the major scale based on any given note.

Wow, even though that was basic stuff, it sounded complicated.  I know the theory, but it was still kind of tough to put into words. 

The thing is, though, that I can take that knowledge, and use it to pick up and play (though not necessarily well) any instrument in that music store. Guitars, bass guitars, ukuleles, mandolins, violins, and anything with a keyboard: I can play them, albeit with very limited proficiency. 

For those who know about such things, you of course noticed that I didn’t say anything about brass or woodwind instruments.  Those things are dark magic, and I’m clueless.

Why can I play all of those instruments?  Because I was given the gift of music, all those years ago.  The story is fuzzy, at best, but at some point I was given the knowledge of how music works and the opportunity to put what I learned into action.

And I am now, and always will be, grateful.

For me, the gift of music is up there with reading and the ability to perform basic mathematical operations (and woodworking–I’m thankful for that, too). I don’t use it every day, but it’s there when I want it or need it.

To my folks for the support, my teachers, and all of the authors who wrote the countless books and articles I’ve read: Thank you!

10 thoughts on “A Forever Gift”

  1. Yes, Tim! It is amazing to me how just a small bit of knowledge about chords or theory can translate across so many areas of music. Your comment about the chords that you can play with only the white keys made me smile. It reminds me of the years I spent as a guitar player transposing songs so that I never had to play a bar chord!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You’ve written a very insightful post about gifts. How wise to recognize music as a forever gift… I am in awe of your knowledge of chords and desire to pursue a new creative area using the help of the MIDI controller. One of the things I wanted to do was pick up my ukelele during this pandemic downtime. It was a gift to me for a birthday, some years ago (?maybe for my 50th). I’ve never learned to play it. The chords are daunting to me. I was a woodwind musician – flute and piccolo. Maybe it’s time. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thank you for your comments, Carol. As coincidence would have it, I just bought a couple of ukuleles to share with my granddaughters. I understand what you mean about chords, but I also am here to tell you that you don’t need to understand everything to start playing (I know a tiny fraction of all there is to know). Pick up your uke and give it a shot!

      If I’m not mistaken, I have a flute buried deep in my closet. I got it at a yard sale and had it repadded, but I’ve never learned how to play it. I’m convinced that if you can learn flute, though, you can certainly play a ukulele! 🙂

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      1. I’m going to get my cello as well, I think. I should have mentioned this earlier, but concerning learning the ukulele: YouTube. There’s some really good beginners stuff there–have fun!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I actually subscribed to one person’s tutorials but it went no where for me. I am more of a book person, of which I also have and will try again. I dug out the uke the other day but our lab is “afraid” of the music. I’ll keep trying, though! Enjoy your cello!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. After reading this article I will be dusting off my guitar (maybe buying new strings) and playing. I never learned a lot of the standard chords I would simply look up the tabs of songs I liked. But if I learn the chords and then teach my sons they will carry that with them. It’s like writing right? We can visit it again and again and again. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jonathan, yes–definitely get that thing playable!

      I have a basic understanding of chord theory, but I can only apply it on the piano with any degree of speed and accuracy since the notes are all laid out in a single line. When it comes to the guitar, I just learn chord forms and have at it.

      It is like writing! You saying that makes me laugh a bit because we just bought our granddaughters a piano, and I know they’re both going to think something along the lines of, “Wait, I have to learn another language!?”

      Thanks for your comments!

      Liked by 1 person

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