Music careers have their peaks and valleys and mine has sunk below sea level. At Christmas time I auditioned on piano for my brother-in-law and he said it sounded like I was playing the typewriter. In January, I gave a brief concert for my friend Tim, who suggested we go back to watching the U2 DVD.

I wasn’t discouraged, though, because my piano teacher was buying me a new instruction book. I was already playing Gershwin, Cole Porter and the Beatles, so I figured I was moving up to Beethoven. Instead, she gave me a book that featured “Old McDonald” and “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” It has cartoon notes that introduce themselves – “Hi, I’m E.”

My teacher had good reason, though, for going back to the basics, because I’d missed them the first time around. Playing children’s ditties taught me that some notes should be held for a few beats, while others should be played quickly. This creates what is called rhythm.

Still, I rebelled against the new book. I’ve always blamed teachers for my poor performance in school. Now, I know it was all my fault. Whatever my piano teacher assigns for practice – well, I’ll play anything but that piece. It’s no wonder I almost repeated fourth grade.

As for my professional career, it’s gone down like the stock market. I’m sure you heard about the epic New Year’s Eve performance by The Lemurs at the Circle Inn. Well, guess what, I wasn’t even invited to attend, let alone play. I felt like the guy who got kicked out of the Beatles, just before they made it big.

Fortunately, they invited me to play for their triumphal Sunday morning return to the Shortstop Lounge. Our fans flocked there at 11 a.m. to listen to The Lemurs and watch bowling. After our set, I played some standards on the keyboard but the only request I got was from Just Dan, to turn down my amp.

Now, I face the greatest challenge of my musical career – playing at the Gasse School of Music recital this Saturday. The only easy part was choosing a song – I picked the one that has a sticker on it. You see, the 4 year old who takes lessons ahead of me, and the 6 year old who follows me, they were always getting stickers. I was jealous. So what if they sound better than me. I want a sticker, too.

I finally played “Love is Here to Stay” so well, my teacher gave me a Tigger sticker. So, I’ll wow the recital audience with that one. Then I’ll stun them with Mozart. You have to admit “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” ranks with his greatest works.