Justin Beiber U Smile Cover on Piano. (Harder than it looks!)

I have to give Justin Beiber credit.  Until recently, I kind of blew him off as a teen pop star.  But after listening to his video, over and over… and over… U Smile has a LOT of variation within the melody.  It’s incredibly easy to lose track of which part you’re playing.  Next thing, I’d be playing the wrong part of the song.  Took just forever to memorize all the parts.

Then I got very focused the other night.  Was finally feeling the music.   It was the first time I really ‘got’ the song. Before that my hands just matched the melody.  No sense of the song.  Suddenly, something clicked.  Don’t know if I’ve played it so much that it’s finally making sense, or heard it so much I’m finally remembering the sequence of each phrase, but suddenly I could feel the song in my hands.

This is why I got the DGX-640.  To practice more.  Any time, day or night.  Love those headphones, and being able to learn from watching YouTube.  Hadn’t planned to start with music so far outside my comfort zone, but learning it has made me better.  It took a long time to get the hang of U Smile.  Now that it’s coming from my heart instead of my head, I’m enjoying the practice.

This is the second song I’ve learned by request.  The first was for my sister-in-law.  First, she asked for Hallelujah, which didn’t require any effort.  That song got in my head from the word go, and was happy to be played.  But the other song was Linus and Lucy, from Charlie Brown.  I love that song, and really wanted to learn it.  It was actually on my personal agenda, so it was a win-win request.  But wow… that left hand pattern nearly killed me.  If you’ve heard me play much, you’ll notice a very simple back-and-forth pattern with the left hand, melody with the right; mostly in the key of C.  Having to play that left-hand pattern in an unfamiliar key…  was kind of like rubbing my head with one hand, patting my stomach with the other, while trying to riverdance.  My normal style is to make it up on the fly.  Linus and Lucy is one of the very few songs I’ve learned that require pure memorization.

Back to learning new things.  My niece Nichole asked for U Smile.  Pretty melody.  Only 3 or 4 different chords.  Thought it would be easy.  But with all that melody variation from line to line and verse to verse, I didn’t get the hang for a long time.  Could sort of follow the melody and play along, but couldn’t feel the music.  Then, just ‘Boom!’, it was there. A good friend told me I made a song that was “pop” into something with a Hallmark feel.  That’s a compliment that means a lot.  Made me feel good that there’s something of ‘me’ in it.

For the first 50 years, my style has been static.  If I can hum it in my head, my hands could play.  If the song didn’t make sense to me… or if I couldn’t remember the melody…  couldn’t play it.  And the key of ‘C’ is the only one I really understand.

Now it’s time to see if an old dog can learn new tricks.  Monique has a very high opinion of my playing.  I’d like to be as good as she thinks I am.  After all these years, it’s time to learn something new.

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