Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Wednesday 29 February 2012


It's a staple filler in the newspapers - how computers and the internet are making us less social, worse at extended thought or legible handwriting, more extreme in expressing our opinions, and so on, but here's one I hadn't anticipated.

The people I exchanged homes with in Berlin have a piano. I haven't touched one in decades, and rather doubted if I could even read music any more (not that I've room for a piano in my flat anyway); but one evening, just as an experiment, I plucked up the courage to open up the folder of simple pieces they had lying on top, and approached the keyboard with some care.

As it turned out, there was no problem in remembering the notation or translating it to the right keys: but years of light-touch computer keyboards had simply taken away any sense of the degree of impact needed to get the piano keys to produce the right sort of sound at the right microsecond. No doubt practice would be the answer (it usually is); but it was something completely unexpected.

Now, should I take up the spoons instead?

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