Sunday, February 15, 2009

F-holes and such: Part One

 I come from a family of 5 children. For some reason we were all "blessed" with a certain amount of musical talent. Perhaps not me so much, but my mom and brother and 3 sisters. I was dragged along for the ride, more or less, just so the others wouldn't look bad because of me. Little dogs don't do music that well, but they can learn if you beat them every day. Ok, I wasn't beaten every day.

Except my dad. The music gene was not in Dad. Oh, he could (and would) throw his head back and make an enthusiastic "joyful noise," but music? Not so much. Anyway.

So in 4th grade I was, for a few fruitless months, at least, chained to a piano for an hour each day after school. "Criminy a living death!", as my broken-legged friend Gary used to say. I will not even bother to describe my piano teacher and her ruler-knuckle-metronome method of making sure I kept my little fingers curved. But if you have ever had the pleasure of learning the absolute basics of the piano, you will empathize with the endless stupid scales and key signatures and John Schaum sequential piano instruction books with humiliating song titles like, "The Happy Halibut," and butt-numbing piano benches (especially cruel since my feet didn't reach the floor, much less the pedals.) This while my buddies were pressing their dirty noses against the window that was next to the piano and yelling at me to come out and play in the waning Michigan twilight. "Hey, JERKOFF," they would yell affectionately. "Hurry Dup."

Before too much of my life was wasted it became painfully obvious that piano was not going to "take" with me and I was let off the hook. But not for long. I broke my arm in 5th grade, but come 6th grade I was introduced to the violin and urged to become intimate friends with it. Shee-it.

"Why violin, Dad?"

"Because it costs less than a cello, son."

Who could argue with that kind of musical logic?
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I have been rudely ridiculed about the length of my posts. Accordingly, I am stopping here. But be warned I am not finished. Tomorrow you will learn the parts of a violin and why you should not change your strings all at once. Why should you not learn the parts of a violin? I had to. Hint: learning the names of the parts didn't help me play it better. It won't help you either.

9 comments:

A. said...

My mother was a talented violinist, my sister sings, my father was much like yours. I keep quiet.

Ken Armstrong said...

I had to learn the accordion. We should compare scars sometime. :)

Janet said...

I still have my Schaum books. 12 years of lessons. Although had any of my teachers been knuckle-rappers, I know I wouldn't have lasted that long. Shame on your teacher.

Debbie said...

How funny, I was going to comment how in order to learn the piano, I first had to endure accordion lessons. Lo and behold, my buddy Ken made a similar comment.

Guess this odd group of folks that find one another here in the blogoshere have some pretty warped pasts!

ettarose said...

I too learned to play the piano and then when grown I taught myself to play the guitar. Look where it got us. Refined.

Relax Max said...

@A. - How interesting. Your mother sounds so special. I keep quiet too. At least when it comes to singing. :)

@Ken Armstrong - Old "Polka Ken." Somehow it doesn't fit. Bet you were/are good, though.

@Janet - Wow. Well at least you have something to show for the experience. I hope you still play.

@Debbie - Why am I not surprised? I can see you now in your Little Debbie talent pageants, up on stage in your little spangly majorette costume and playing an accordion, emitting an oddly monotonous rhythm that made the judges' expressions go blank. And that smile! And those eyes - making hypnotic contact with each judge in turn... :) :

@Ettarose - How interesting! I learn something new about you all the time! I'm impressed.

Why you would give all that up just to be a juggler in the circus is beyond me. )

Janet said...

I do still play, actually. In public even. Although piano recitals were the bane of my existence in school.

Stephanie Barr said...

I completely lack motor control, the kind required for art or the playing of any instrument. I played the clarinet for a while, but it wasn't pretty. For the sake of humanity, I gave it up.

I can, however, sing and quite well. No rulers required. Of course, I can't do anything useful like sight read.

Relax Max said...

@Janet - I wish I had had the determination to make it through the early days of piano until it got fun. I envy you. :)

@Stephanie - Yeah. I've seen your blog. Can't type, either. A shame, because you seem to have worthwhile ideas but just can't spell well enough to express them. Kidding. I LOVE your blog! Wish I could sing. Trust me, you wouldn't want to be in the same room if I tried! Thanks for your comment. :)

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