This post is in the Musical Practice category

Dear Reader

There are times I wish I could play an instrument. I mean really play it, not fool around and hide behind the technology of the studio. I can play a little bit, I was a reasonably competent trombonist in my youth, I play a bit of saxophone and bass guitar but none of these enough to perform or record at a level suitable for my work. I learned the electronic organ as a teenager, and it was to this that I credit my knowledge of chord shapes and inversions on the keyboard.

The problem always seemed to be a lack of co-ordination between left and right hands, or between tongue and fingers. Even simple piano music is beyond me if the two parts are require independent finger movement. Let me explain. I can play chords or melodies in my right hand with a simple bass part in the left, or a melody in my right with chords in my left. That’s about it. Fortunately, or perhaps because of this, I rarely write piano music. A similar situation occurs on guitar, my left hand gets out of time with my right. The obvious response to this is practice – everyone has to practice if they want to improve. I have been pretty happy to deal with this by saying that I don’t really want to improve. I know enough excellent pianists, guitarists and other instrumental players to reason that they will always play better than me so I may as well just get them to do it. My instrument is the studio computer, the composition interface – and I practice a lot with that.

This research has pointed to a couple of other factors that may be at work here. ASD children are often somewhat uncoordinated (Attwood, 2008, pp. 261-270; Dewey, Cantell, & Crawford, 2007; Gowen, Stanley, & Miall, 2007; Ming, Brimacombe, & Wagner, 2007; Provost, Heimerl, & Lopez, 2007), accident prone and tend to avoid refined physical activity such as ball sports, and they frequently have poorly legible handwriting (Miyahara et al., 1997; Pan & Frey, 2006). All this describes me well as a child, although some of these have improved somewhat. At primary school I was teased because I ran “funny” and I was frequently in trouble over my hand-writing. I never did well at sports and am still put to shame by my sons when it comes to cricket, soccer etc.

So maybe the old excuses have some basis in physical reality. I’m not really looking for excuses here, I’m quite happy being a klutz, I get by OK, just let me use one hand at a time …

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