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My girlfriend, Catherine, adores crows. Every few months, I’ll get an update from her about how intelligent crows are, how they form communities, how they remember interactions with humans, how they communicate amongst themselves and trade stories of human kindness or cruelty. In literature, crows and ravens are signifiers of death and portents of doom. In the last couple of years, however, I’ve found it hard to take such associations seriously.
I was never good at piano, but I had lessons for ten years anyway. I rarely practiced, and I didn’t have the space in my brain to absorb any musical theory. Reading notation was my biggest weak point: especially in bass clef, I couldn’t tell you where I was meant to put my fingers to save my life. What I was really in it for was that point after months of practice and scrawling notes on sheet music when I could perform a piece almost-rote, when performance became effortless.