A couple of weeks ago, a man wheeled his dad into an assisted-living dining room past the piano. I was playing “It Had to Be You.” The son was whistling something else, a song I didn’t recognize. He kept whistling his own tune while I was playing another. I was impressed with his ability to compartmentalize. Or maybe I’m giving him too much credit. Maybe he was just oblivious to my music.
It’s hard to effectively do two different things at the same time. Like patting your head and rubbing your stomach. Or driving and talking on the phone. Or writing and listening to music. I can’t do that one. I need complete silence. People who don’t play the piano sometimes marvel at those of us who do, because we play one line of music with our left hand while playing another line with our right. I don’t really think about that when I play, probably because I started taking piano lessons at age 7. I imagine it’s harder to get the knack of it if you start lessons later.
There’s a BBC radio program called I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue. It’s a comedy game show. In the segment “One Song to the Tune of Another,” panelists do just that: they sing the lyrics of one song to the tune of another song, accompanied on the piano. Like this:
First, the lyrics of “The Muppet Show Theme” to the tune of “A Whiter Shade of Pale.”
Then, the other way around.
Could you do that?
Paulette Bochnig Sharkey