Words of Advice:

"We have it totally under control. It's one person coming from China. It's going to be just fine." -- Donald Trump, 1/22/2020

“We will not see diseases like the coronavirus come here..and isn't it refreshing when contrasting it with the awful presidency of President Obama."
-- Trump Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, 2/25/20

"I don't take responsibility for anything." --Donald Trump, 3/13/20

"If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

"Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It." -- Unknown

"There seems to be almost no problem that Congress cannot, by diligent efforts and careful legislative drafting, make ten times worse." -- Me

"What the hell is an `Aluminum Falcon'?" -- Emperor Palpatine

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Monday, October 29, 2007

My War on Music

Over at Skywritings (that blog is now defunct-EBM), Scully has written another one of her great posts, this time about her music.

My experience with making music differs, as you might expect. When I was in elementary school, back in the Dark Ages, the school offered music lessons. I wound up with the trumpet and my brother, like Scully, was learning to play the clarinet. His playing was bad enough, the strained notes being interrupted by squeaks that could shatter windows, but his lack of ability on the clarinet was exceeded by my total ineptness on the trumpet.

My first lesson on the trumpet was how to blow a note, and then they sent me home with a somewhat battered brass rented trumpet. I sat in the rec room in the basement and practiced that one note for a half-hour a day. It had to sound as though a ferry with a dented whistle was backing out of its slip.

Why my mother didn't start drinking heavily then, between one kid playing a squeak-monster and another practicing on a foghorn, I'll never know. It was a rule that we had to practice as soon as we came home from school, which probably was to spare my father the agony of having to listen to us slaughtering those instruments. At one point, my brother came down with his clarinet (as he had started lessons a few months before me) with the idea that we could practice scales together. He first played a scale, which consisted of eight notes and three ear-torturing squeaks.

He: "Now you play a G note."


He: "What note was that??"

Me: "It's the only one I know."

He soon realized that I was about seven notes shy of a scale. While I was soon taught other notes, it soon became apparent that I was to playing the trumpet what George W. Bush is to oratory.

I stuck with it, however, and wound up in the third trumpet section in the school marching band. "Third trumpet" plays harmony; if the first trumpet section is like singing, third trumpet is like humming along. Our job was more to add bodies and volume. My father bought a nice trumpet for me, but it soon became apparent that was like giving a Colt Gold Cup to a blind shooter.

(I could have been worse, I suppose. There were actually kids who didn't make the cut into the marching band; their musical skills had to be akin to the sound of a bull being castrated with a rusty saw blade.)

I wasn't very good and, while I slowly got better, if I were to ever get a name as a trumpet player, it probably would have been something like "Felonious Monk." I was pretty good at playing badly, my dog liked to sit at my feet and howl right along. The bad thing was she was probably better at it than I was. At one point, there was a tape recording of my playing a duet with the dog, but that was lost to posterity. (Much to posterity's relief, I might add.)

After about six years of murdering music, I smartened up and quit. The horn went into a closet at my parents' house and, other than picking it up once or twice, it stayed in its case for well over thirty years.

Until, that is, my nephew wanted to learn to play the trumpet. My brother oiled it up so that all of the parts would move; the valves and the tuning slides. My nephew's teacher inspected the trumpet and said it was a really nice horn, and I gather he is doing OK at it.

He sure could do worse. Oh, how I know that!


LBJ said...

That was a priceless story. . the parallel about the bull castration. . . I almost snorted Bass Ale out my nose. .

You need to write more of that. . that was beautiful, and funny, and SO much what many of our childhoods were.

I was the geeky awkward shy one, that didn't come into my own until I got a yoke in my hands. It's nice to remember and laugh.


Comrade Misfit said...

"Geeky and awkward" was where I lived.

I wouldn't have thought to write the story until I read yours, Scully, so no, thank you.