Music: They’re Doing It All Wrong

I’ve recently begun taking piano lessons. Yes, I’m a grown man plinking my way through “Mary Had a Little Lamb” like a 6 year old. It’s a little humbling to hear the toddler in the next room at the music studio flying through Mozart’s Concerto #7 like she’s Billy Joel while I try to remember which finger is supposed to be on the C key. I have no idea if there is a Mozart’s Concerto #7, but I’m sure that little kid in the next room does.


There were really not a lot of funny pictures on the internet about playing piano. Either no one finds it funny, or the people who understand it don’t have a sense of humor. I’m guessing both. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with music people, well, maybe, but it’s more that their heads are so full of the information needed to read music that they don’t have room for anything else. ย Below is what ‘music people’ find hilarious, apparently:


See what I mean?

The piano playing is alright, but I’m convinced that whoever invented the system for writing and reading music was an autistic savant toddler.


At some point I will be expected to understand something like this. I told my piano teacher that she was wildly optimistic. In my head I was thinking “delusional,” but I didn’t say it. That music in the picture above is so complex that our military should use it to send secret messages to their spies. Forget coming up with complex secret codes. Just write songs to each other and the enemy will never crack that code. I’m pretty sure that I won’t. Justin Bieber hasn’t. There’s aliens from the future who travel light years to get to Earth and they don’t get our music. Remember Close Encounters? (if you click the link it will take you to the music scene in the movie)

Right now I’m learning to read and play using sheet music that has the letters of the notes written right on the notes, like this:


At some point I’ll be expected to know what the notes are without the letters written on them, so I said to my teacher, “Why can’t they just write all music with the letters on the notes all the time? Or why not just write a list of the letters in the order that we need to hit them on the keyboard?” She said, “You did not just ask me that.” Later she explained that if they did that the notes would have to be big enough for us to read the letters and thus, music would require larger or more pages. Really? We’re afraid of extra paper?


You know what I think it is? It’s a conspiracy. I think that a couple thousand years ago all the musicians, there was only about 12 back then, got together and decided that they didn’t want to let just anyone in their club, so they devised a maniacally complicated system by which to write music. Initially it was done just so they could exchange secret code notes making fun of the non-music readers. In fact, several esteemed music historians believe that Beethoven and Mozart were really just making fun of Napoleon their entire careers. They were actually the Weird Al Yankovics of their time.

Don’t expect me to ever post a video of me playing piano, but I’ll keep you posted on my progress. I’m pretty sure that the more I understand, the more I’ll make fun of, which is pretty much my m.o. in life. If you have ‘music people’ in your life, feel free to share this with them by hitting the Facebook, Twitter, or re-blog buttons below. Have a great Saturday!ย ~Phil


29 responses to “Music: They’re Doing It All Wrong

  1. Oh Phil – you silly delusional man. I’ll save you a lot of angst here and now. Run. Run away. Forsake the piano. It is not your friend.

    ok – I’ll accept that maybe I’m the only dyfunctional one.

    I’ve tried TWICE as an adult to learn to play. I can even read basic sheet music (when on earth did they start adding the letters to the notes?!!) and could probably still plunk it out on the keyboard.
    … but play with any kind of remote competence? Not in this lifetime.

  2. It would be easier by far
    If you just take up the guitar
    We’re all a bunch of amateurs
    Who get by reading tablature.

  3. C’mon man! You have to get good enough to play that section from Baby Got Back in the e-card!

  4. Phil, Phil, Phil, music is mere math! It’s not the reading of it that’s difficult, it’s the translation to the fingers that bites! I could teach you to read music in about 2 hours, but playing it, now that’s a whole different animal altogether! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. P.S. I graduated with a music ed degree a hundred years ago … I love your satire and can totally relate. Because of the “ed” part, I had to at least try to play every type of instrument. I still pray for the ears of my dear violin teacher, God help him! Weird thing is, I could never get a decent sound from a clarinet, but while the single reed instruments are supposed to be easier, I played the oboe (a double reed) brilliantly – almost changed my major! Piano may not be the instrument for you. Learn to read music, by all means, then keep looking for the right instrument. Music is a great investment no matter how young you are! ๐Ÿ˜€

  6. Well done for taking up something new. I’ve tried to learn the guitar countless times but it’s just too damn hard and hurts my fingers!

  7. Piano is an excellent one to learn on. In contrast, many other instruments may even seem easier.
    I played my recorder well, payed the flute poorly, took piano without good progress, then began the cello which was my fave, but gave up when I broke up with my instructor.
    I was more a choir person.

    Reading music is a wonderful ability still.

    Best of luck ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Congratulations, Phil. I think you will enjoy the learning, and your brain will be making new connections. At your age, they will be the wrong ones, but that will just make your new blog posts more amusing for your fans.

  9. Good on you Phil you are brave it makes me want to be brave and learn too

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