There are two kinds of people in the world: those who play a musical instrument and those who wish they did. I have always wanted to be one of those people who could sit down at the piano and play any song by ear, so people could sing along to their favorite tunes. I took piano lessons for years, but don't practice now and am not very good. I keep saying I'll take it up again, but I already have too many (way too many) projects.
I also played clarinet during middle school. I was always second chair. First chair was held by a boy named Mike, who I believe went on to study at Juilliard. I retained second chair status not because of my clarinet skills, but because I was a good sight reader (thanks to those piano lessons). I never wanted to play clarinet. I wanted to play oboe, but our conductor said I didn't have the right embrasure and that we already had an oboe player. Never mind that we had 13 clarinet players.
As any parent of neophyte musicians knows, those early years can be painful. Squeaks and squawks, missed beats, wrong notes and rhythmic challenges are all part of the territory. Among our children, we have
We beg them to practice. We rent instruments and pay for lessons. We attend school events euphemistically called "concerts". We provide "black bottoms, white tops and black dress shoes" for said concerts. We smile and clap and pretend to recognize the songs they are playing. We endure 73,248 performances of "Hot Cross Buns". We buy band and orchestra fund-raising
But then one day, usually sometime during middle school, the squeaks and squawks turn into sounds that vaguely resemble … music. At first, you're not quite sure you actually heard what you think you heard. But, then, sure enough, you identify a melody. Your ears stop bleeding. You recognize that though your child may not be a prodigy, there is a certain level of proficiency that has been attained. You pat yourself on the back for providing this cultural immersion, knowing that they will carry their love of music with them for the rest of their lives.
It's usually about this time that they decide to quit.
Last week, we attended the winter concert of our two youngest children. It was the school's "Winter Concert", as our public school no longer gives holiday concerts. The short video (I promise, it's just just 33 seconds) showcases the one holiday medley they played and features our curly blonde mop-topped saxophonist (in about the middle of your screen) and our shaggy brunette trumpet player behind him to the left.
If you still think this does not sound like music, then you either never took up an instrument yourself or your children have not yet started. If you thoroughly enjoyed it, then your children are still at the squeaky, squawky stage. I feel your pain. Either way, I hope it brought a smile. Donations may be sent to the Bearman Musical Scholarship Fund. Any level of contribution welcome. Comments are also welcome here.
Happy, happy, merry, merry to one and all.