In Praise Of 2020 (#1)

Making The Grade

“I’m looking for a new hobby, a different challenge. Something I can pick up and put down and don’t necessarily have to go anywhere for.”

Nicky eventual settled on the piano. On the face of it not an obvious choice. Claiming a musical knowledge that sat somewhere between none and next-to-nothing. Then again nor was open water swimming an obvious choice when it was first mooted. Seeing as my amazing (and quite beautiful) lady wife has since twice swam the River Dart 10k, the Bantham Swoosh, the Great North Swim, completed two half iron distance triathlons (as well as the swim in a full Ironman before the bike was cancelled in a storm) and also Swim The Bay (2.5 miles in Weymouth).

At the start of the swimming challenge Nicky couldn’t swim a length of the pool. She used to get sea sick after a short time in the water. Seeing as she is now pretty much a mermaid, there was no reason to doubt she’d master the piano despite not knowing a middle C from a packet of crisps.

After a slow start and a tutor which didn’t quite work out, Nicky found Liz. Liz is a quiet, patient, friendly, considerate and talented teacher and has been just perfect for Nicky. We tend to wear our hobbies in our every day life – bikes hanging on the wall, trainers drying in the porch, kit everywhere, so we had no trouble in convincing ourselves we had room for a piano.

It was all going so well. Nicky would drive to her lessons once a week and come home to practice, practice, practice.

And then 2020 happened.

Face to face lessons were off. Piano gradings were off.

In stepped the internet.

By the witchcraft of mobile phone technology (I’m told they also contain maps, records, newspapers and if you ask nicely, they will tell you everything!), the lessons continued throughout the early spring and summer. Nicky’s phone stood at the end of the keyboard, Liz’s doing the same at her house. Progress was good.

The examining board have also embraced modern technology, Nicky was able to enter a performance grading by way of video.

The recording of the video needed to be continuous, with Nicky playing her four pieces back to back. Out came the little adventure camera normally reserved for running and swimming. We found that having the camera set up on a step ladder, looking over Nicky’s shoulder gave a view of the whole keyboard plus the pedals.

Time for much hilarity, interruptions from the dog, a couple of minor tantrums and a ‘few’ takes! Eventually settling on as recording which she felt most pleased with I then spent two whole evenings trying to figure out how to upload to the exam board’s site.

Perseverance paid off as eventually the status on Nicky’s account changed to ‘pending’.

And ‘pending’ is how it stayed. For one day, two, three, four, more…….



I couldn’t be more proud, Nicky takes a challenge and just goes for it. We’ve both realised that the most important part of challenging yourself is knowing why and then we’ll be geared up to work out how. And with the intervention of technology to back up the amazing work that Liz and Nicky have both done, she has realised her goal. Obviously that is just the start of Nicky’s piano journey….

Next project is Christmas Carols!!

Whilst shepherds watch their flock by night……..