Thursday, August 04, 2005

Beethoven has nothing on me- except talent

Music has always been a part of my life. I was subjected to the soft rock stylings of Whitney Houston and her ilk as a child in the 80's while riding with my mom in the car. With my dad, it was former rock greats like Boston, Chicago and all the other great bands named after American cities, which as I recall, don't exist beyond those two. As a family, we would listen to the music my parents grew up with- the actual icons of rock and roll like the Beatles, Johnny Cash, the Big Bopper and so forth. We took many car trips, and as I grew up, I became intimately familiar with these classics, as well as every "car" song of the era, sadly. Every time I hear "Beep Beep" by The Playmates, a little part of me dies.

My family was also musically talented. My sister, in particular, was a pianist of good skill from her adolescence. I still remember getting dressed up for some half-an-hour performance she had that was an hour's drive away. I don't remember exactly, but I'm sure keeping me still and attentive for those droning exhibitions was fun and easy. Thank God she gave that up, otherwise I suspect I would still be subjected to those terror-inducing recitals. I love my sister, but God damn it if I didn't have to go to more boring crap thanks to her. I won't even get into her high school choir recitals. I certainly feel that it's a good idea to take awkward, gangly semi-adults, some of whose voices haven't yet changed, and make them sing.

My father is also skilled in music. He had an acoustic guitar which I never saw him pull out, but it was certainly fun for me to strum it as loudly as I could, then adjust the tuning pegs and see how the tones changed, and repeat this until he came charging into the room and chased me out, yelling. Other times I would be sitting in the car with him, and we would be quietly driving; all was well. Suddenly his head would start nodding back and forth in time with the music. Just as strangely, if he was really into the music and perhaps not noticing that his young, impressionable son was sitting next to him, he would sing along with the chorus. At this point I would try to be as surreptitious as possible by asking him an inane question, to shake him out of his stupor. That kind of behavior could scar me for life. Good thing I blocked it out until just now.

My own musical exploits are just as numerous. My parents apparently thought they could get a good deal by sending me and my sister to the same piano teacher; while my sister was an apt student, I found it more interesting to play the lowest keys on the instrument over and over. I was dismissed from the class for having "fingers that were too small". My hapless parents didn't learn their lesson and tried to send me to guitar lessons. After just a few renditions of my self-taught guitar work, I was summarily dismissed for the same reason. So either I had stubby fingers for years or every music teacher, while going to music school, was instructed to dismiss problem students by blaming it on digit length. My next exploit was middle school band- I played the alto sax with an amazing lack of skill. Sloppy fingerings, playing with broken reeds, I did it all. In a lone year of high school band (after which I determined my reputation might better be served by sticking with football) I managed to achieve 24th chair, which was right next to my friend in the worst spot, 25th chair. We vied for that vaunted "most terrible" spot throughout the year, each achieving it from time to time with a glorious smattering of sarcastic applause from our bandmates.

At this point I would just like to remind you I was a giant pain in the ass for approximately the first decade and a half of my life. Just so you remember.

My latest foray into musical instrumentation in a self-imposed one. I am returning to that instrument which I first played with gusto- a natural, you might say: the guitar. I have the advantage of being able to read music, but so far my greatest performance has been Blow the Man Down. A friend suggested that I play songs that I like, but obviously he doesn't realize how difficult that is. There's a reason that those musicians are professionals: while others were socializing and enjoying themselves, those musicians locked themselves away in musty garages honing their art, eventually reaping the monetary and associated benefits. I'm still practicing, but it seems hopeless.

It might be time to resign myself to the fact that my fingers are too small.


At 3:19 AM, Blogger ChickyBabe said...

I took guitar lessons at school and hated it when it came to singing along silly old songs, like "Skip to my loo"! Never played an instrument since!

At 9:54 AM, Blogger chica bonita said...

i appreciate people with musical talent but i've never pick up any. it's probably never too late but i guess it's just not in my soul to play music.

At 2:03 AM, Blogger kangaroogrrrl said...

It might be time to resign myself to the fact that my fingers are too small.

Like Lisa Simpson!

I've played the piano since I was about six. I hated it for about ten years. And now I have no easy access to a piano, I miss it. The irony :-(


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