An Ode to Randy, and the Little Things That Make the Internet Wonderful
Thanks to the strange way people can now make money, I have learned something
During the pandemic, as many people did, I decided I wanted to take up a hobby, and by “take up a hobby” I mean “actually plug in and try and use the MIDI keyboard and learn piano.” I’d tried roughly four different times in my life to play, and each time found that the combination of songs that I didn’t like and the general confusion of trying to read music was enough to make me give up in roughly a day. I knew I had a knack for music, but something in the combination of byzantine musical language and my coordinational disability was stopping me from being able to enjoy it.
At random, I went on Fiverr, a site I had used entirely to get a man in India to jokerfy Star Wars villain Watto, and typed in the word “piano.” I happened upon a man promising to “make piano tutorials of your favourite songs,” and a series of videos that showed a program called Synthesia — think Guitar Hero but for actual piano notes — playing along to the theme of a show called Money Heist. I messaged “dble8pianokeys,” who introduced himself as “Randy,” and was far too honest. I told him that I was an extremely junior piano player, that I hated learning to play piano, but that in every moment that I felt I was playing a song, I felt a truly unique kind of joy. Randy — based in Pakistan— told me that this was totally fine, and what most people experienced, and that for around $50, I could get a piano tutorial of Queens of the Stone Age’s “Make It Wit Chu.”
A few days later, I got a .midi file, put it into Synthesia, and spent two hours progressing from “incapable” to “song-adjacent,” and was remarkably emotional, mostly because I had assumed I’d never play any song I actually liked on piano. Over the course of the next year, I set up an informal working relationship with a man in Pakistan, sending him hundreds of dollars and creating my own personal music catalog of random Queens of the Stone Age, Soundgarden, David Bowie, and Toadies songs.
And throughout the process, I’d give vague feedback about what was easy and what was not, what I was struggling on, what felt strange, and…