Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Probably every parent wants their kid to learn how to play a musical instrument. I'm no exception. Each of my kids, I announced recently, will have to play at least one musical instrument of some kind.
"I don't care what musical instrument you play," I said to the kids, "as long you play an instrument."
That turned out to be a lie.
Six year-old Julian jumped on the, uh, bandwagon without hesitation. I think this is because curly, golden-haired Julian secretly suspects that he's supposed to be a rock star of some kind but just hasn't gotten around to picking up the accessories yet - the leather pants, the Ace-bandage-tight Lenny Kravitz shirt or the ability to play some kind of music.
Julian asked for a guitar for Christmas, and Santa promptly supplied a Julian-sized acoustic guitar. We plan to work on the rock star clothes once Julian has figured out how to wear his boxers right-side-out with the fly in the front. So, we've got some time.
I thought Gabriel would be easy. He loves playing Rock Band on the X Box and he even sings Karaoke at his grandparent's house, so when I solicited him for ideas I was mentally sizing him up for a drum kit or maybe even singing lessons. We have a student piano in our living room now, so I thought maybe he'd go for that.
"I want bongos," he said.
I stared at him like he was somebody else's kid. Somebody else's weird kid.
"I don't think you understand," I demurred. "You're supposed to let me live vicariously through you by doing the things I was too disorganized and uncool to accomplish when I was a child. I've already mastered dorkiness."
He pondered this for a second.
"How about the trumpet?"
A week later, I picked Gabriel up from school and he fairly jumped into the car.
"You remember how you said you wanted me to learn an instrument?"
"Uhhhhhhh," I said, sensing a trap.
"Well, I figured out which one I'm gonna play."
"Uhhhhhhh," I said again, but with this time with emphasis.
"I want to play the recorder!"
I looked at him like he was someone else's weird, recorder-playing kid.
"Oh," I said. "Do boys play that instrument, too?"
Still, I got him a recorder that day. I've got my fingers crossed that the ridicule of his peers would eventually drive him toward a cooler instrument, like maybe the xylophone or even the bassoon. In the between the repetitions of Hot Cross Buns, I take what enjoyment I can from the instrument. For instance, did you know recorders have something called a thumb hole? It makes me giggle every time I say it - and I say it alot.
Thumb hole.
Gabriel doesn't find it as funny.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Here is a Demetri Martin type of observation regarding the recorder for you:

Playing the recorder in 3rd grade is dorky -- playing that same recorder in a heavy metal band is ultra cool

It is not the instrument that makes the musician a dork - it is a byproduct of context.

Example - School Uniform - on public bus on way to school dorky

School Uniform on lead guitarist for AC/DC ultra cool