I wish I could speak French just like I can play piano

I talk a lot on Facebook about my inability to speak French.  It's not from a lack of technical ability, but from a lack of comfort in speaking French out loud.  A lot of well meaning people try to tell me that I "should just try" and that "it doesn't matter if you make a few mistakes" but that's missing the point, unfortunately.

Comfort in doing something is not always directly proportional to technical ability.  For some people, they can head over to France after a few lessons and take delight in ordering in a restaurant or buying something in a shop.  That's just not how I'm wired, and it's not something I'm ever going to be able to do.

Or so I thought.

Something struck me the other day whilst I was playing the piano.  We recently bought a piano for the house - I know, cool, eh? - and I quite often wander into the music room and plonk myself down and play and sing a couple of songs whilst waiting for dinner to cook in the Aga.

My piano playing isn't technically very good at all.  The truth is that I never learned to play the piano at school.  I started off, as most people do, playing the recorder.  It's not the most pleasant sound, especially when played too hard and with slightly wobbly fingering by a group of enthusiastic five-year-olds.  As I went through school, I moved from the recorder to the violin when I moved to secondary school.  Just like with the recorder, the sound of a solo violin isn't great when it's screechy and the finger placement isn't completely accurate.

After a couple of years of screeching away, I could make a nice enough noise to get away with it in the school orchestra, but even in the small ensemble at the school concerts, there was a sound to my playing not entirely unlike fingernails being dragged down a blackboard.

My passion had always lain in playing the keyboard.  From as early an age I could remember, I'd had a Casio keyboard and then when my Mum moved into her new house just around the corner from my secondary school, she bought me an upright piano.

From then on I had little interest in playing the violin.  My lunchtimes would be spent in the school music room playing on the pianos there, and even in the school concerts, I started to give my mandatory solo performances on the grand piano in the school hall rather than on the violin I was supposed to be learning to play.

Despite all that, I've never taken any Associated Board Grades for piano.  I did for violin, but for piano I just taught myself to play more and more complex things, and never really worried about the technical aspects of playing.

And I still don't.  I could probably just about muddle my way through Grade I on piano these days, and probably get Grade II or III with a bit of practice, but above that boredom would kick in before I learned the set pieces.

And yet, despite the fact that my piano playing is technical ropey, I thoroughly enjoy playing, and I'm happy to play and even sing in front of other people.  The idea of singing in front of people is for many people the epitome of terror, but I don't mind it.  Despite the fact I'm not particularly great.

I mean, I can hold a tune, and I can play piano well enough to get across the accompaniment for a well-known tune.  But I'm not going to win The Voice or even BGT anytime soon.

And yet, I have a fluency when I play the piano.  I feel the emotion and feel of what I'm trying to play rather than worrying about the individual notes.  As long as I keep time, and play something which captures the piece, then I don't feel that the individual notes matter so much.  I even make mistakes, but I just carry on and nobody notices.  Playing the piano makes me happy as much as speaking French makes me anxious.

I wish I could find that attitude when it comes to speaking French...

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