by Carrie Kirk
It wasn't that long ago that I sat staring at the piano keys.
Talking to many of my friends, most seemed to have the same parents when it came to learning an instrument. We also had the same experiences when it came to the instrument on which we learned. The parents chose an instrument or gave us a choice. They insisted upon weekly lessons and daily practice. They drove us to recitals, often making good on their promise of an ice cream cone post-performance. They fought the good fight to have their child learn to read music and master "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," moving up the musical food chain to Bach and Mozart.
But eventually they lost the battle of their child mastering an instrument. Our parents grew tired. Tired of arguing about how little we practiced. Tired of being embarrassed when we showed up at lessons unprepared. With their anticipated prodigy continually resisting, yelling from the top of the stairs, "I will never need to know (insert instrument here ... (and algebra of course)) when I am grown up!" your parent and mine arrived at the final phone call to your music teacher. Lessons - and all the drama that comes with it - ending along with your parents' dreams of raising a well-rounded kid with a penchant for playing an instrument rather than calling a crush or sending notes to their BFF.
Humming the Crowded House classic "History Never Repeats," now I am the parent and my children are the musical prodigies. Instead of staring at piano keys, it's now guitar strings and saxophone keys. William tried piano a handful of years ago and then moved into clarinet as school band started up. With a move to middle school, William wanted to switch to the manly saxophone. With William earnestly learning the sax, I proposed - let's be honest - I insisted that George select an instrument to learn. I put it all out there, even being open to George choosing drums. He chose guitar, proving that there is a God.
Now we have a music corner in our living room. There's a piano. Not the same piano whose keys I used to stare at, but a piano I acquired in my adult life. Willingly acquired. There's a flute, one the boys and I purchased at the Indie Vintage Market. I used to march in my high school band, blowing the hell out of my flute, trying to be heard. There's a vision. There are two guitars, one smaller than the other, on which George and I learn together during our Saturday lessons. Lastly there is the saxophone. Shiny with a resonating sound. It travels to Westlane Middle School with William three times a week where he also has a private lesson once a week.
I have to say, I get why my parents were so excited when I played piano as a girl. To watch my kids work through a song or turn through their book to find out the correct fingering to make a note - that is cool. Do I think that my boys will become professionals, performing in jazz clubs around the midwest? Chances are slim, just as my on-the-short side boys are not likely to become NBA all-stars. But our house is filled with music. Notes that may be a bit sharp or a tad flat, but it's still music to my ears - even for as long or as little as it may last.