Before I even pressed record on the voice memo I was taking of our conversation, Mikky asked me, “Wait, can I write out all my instruments first?” I waited a minute or two while she made herself a list, remembering chronologically the impressive list of instruments she knows how to play. The grand total is eight (Afterwards, she asked me if I thought eight was an impressive number. My response was yes, proof being that I play zero).
She began her list at the end: About a year and a half ago, she learned to play the harmonica. She said, “My grandfather found a blues band and just gave it to me for no apparent reason. And I thought, I can’t just have it sit here, so I learned how to play it.” This “why not?” mentality says a lot about Mikky’s outlook on life. Most would likely ask “why?” whereas she saw an opportunity and took it.
Going back to the beginning, she started learning piano in third grade when her mom signed her up for lessons (shoutout to her teacher Liz!). She explained that “Subsequently, because [she] can play piano, [she] can play keyboard.” Despite the differences, she finds both of them very fun to play.
In fifth grade, she picked up the flute when her elementary school “decided kids could start playing in concert band.” Her mom was first chair when she’d played the flute in high school, so it was basically already decided for her that flute was the instrument she was going to learn. She said, “my entire childhood was just my mom telling me: you’re gonna play flute in fifth grade like I did!” She even learned to play on her mom’s flute.
Eventually, she was good enough that she managed to convince her band teacher to let her play the piccolo, which despite being significantly harder to play than flute, she described as her favorite instrument to learn. She worked at it enough that she became a “better piccolo player” than she is a flute player. Despite the overlap, it’s “not necessarily if you know how to play the flute, you know how to play piccolo” in the same way it’s “if you know how to play the piano, you know how to play keyboard,” though knowing flute definitely did help.
She also knows how to play the soprano recorder which “in technicality, [she] learned before flute because everyone in fourth grade in my elementary school got a recorder and learned how to play it.” However, in ninth grade, there was one song that “called for all of the flute players to […] play a recorder for about three lines of the sheet music, so I learned how to actually play the recorder for this one song.” She thought it was interesting to learn it “after so many years of playing ‘Hot Cross Buns’ over and over and over again.”
Also in ninth grade, she had a teacher who “always brought a ukulele to class.” She considered this teacher so much of a role model that “the more she played it the more [Mikky] wanted to learn how to play it.” When she brought up wanting to play ukulele to her parents, they thought it was “the funniest thing in the world,” asking her if she really needed to play it on top of all of the instruments she already knew. The consensus was yes, and to this day, it’s her favorite instrument to play. Besides the harmonica, it’s the only instrument she brought with her to college, and it’s the only one she plays regularly. She particularly likes the ukulele (and piano) because she likes to play songs “that you can sing to.”
The last instrument she learned to play (besides the aforementioned harmonica) is the guitar. She made it very clear that this is by far her worst instrument. Her boyfriend plays the guitar, and so she decided she wanted to learn it too. For her 16th birthday, some friends pitched in to buy her a guitar. She learned how to play a few songs, but she’s “very very much not the best at guitar.”