I'm learning the piano, and my son is teaching me. I pay him - it's strictly business, strictly for pleasure. He fills in a notebook with instructions and comments. He encourages me - "Your hands are looking great!"; he imparts wisdom, "To make a mistake is not a problem, but to play without passion is a crime."
I'm learning the piano because I have unfinished business. I spent years practising the flute, taking exams and playing some of the repertoire I still hear at school concerts - ah yes, here comes Faure's Sicilienne arching down the years. But I listen, have always listened, to piano music - Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy, Shostakovitch, Rachmaninov, Schumann, Brahms ...
My fingers are re-playing the keys I first found under my mother's guidance decades ago. She taught me for a couple of years when I was seven or eight, and then as a teenager I'd often meander around her piano for an afternoon, mostly sticking to the things I knew.
During this evening's lesson, when my son asks me to start with any scale I like, I gravitate self-consciously to Middle C, the easy note, the one my mother showed me first. I play C major - the easy scale, avoiding the black notes. "I like B major," says my son. "It sits under my hands."
On the first page of my notebook, he has written: