A musical instrument is a friend for life

Why...

Do parents inflict on their children the misery of learning an instrument?

Well of course the answer to the above is probably one upmanship and ignorance.

“My Johnnie is learning the recorder…”

“Ah yes, the sweet little simpleton’s flute. Miranda found that soooooo easy she is now playing the oboe…”

All this lasts as long as the parent can stand the noise. No sane person would ever inflict on themselves, a child practicing the violin. Strangling a cat produces melodic bliss in comparison.

Then of course you get trendy parents who allow kids something a bit more useful and contemporary like drums or electric guitar. That is just masochistic. An electric guitar wails, and it’s the listener who ‘gently weeps’.

Drum solos are like nails down a blackboard even at a rock concert, but performed for hours on end, it is likely to end in mass murder. In addition, unlike a pair of maracas which your child can carry anywhere, you need a lorry to lug a drum kit about and a fork lift truck to load the stuff into the lorry. And then what? If your beloved keeps it up, he or she will spend all their teenage years doing no work but instead auditioning for bands convinced they are the next Nirvana.

...and another thing

I was allowed to learn to play an acoustic guitar which led to me making a record at 12 years old. A record so toe curlingly bad that the late zany DJ Kenny Everett wanted to include it in his annual world’s worst records show. The fact it had the son of a famously disgraced media mogul, an Earl and a future Attorney General playing also greatly added to the attraction.

Sadly you had to sell 1,000 copies to qualify for entry to the show and we had only sold 500. That did not put off Everett who located Zeus Studios in Oxford and begged them to print 500 more which he personally would buy to allow this masterpiece to be on his show. Sadly or luckily, depending on your point of view, the masters had long ago been recorded over!

...and another thing

The only thing worse than being subjected to someone’s child vandalising an instrument is an adult. At least with a child it’s usually mercifully short and the adults all nod knowingly to each other as if to say the sound should be listed by the UN as a weapon of mass destruction.

But adults are like indestructible boxers. Despite being knocked down with mistake after mistake (have you noticed bad players always go back and try to repeatedly redo a cock-up rather than move on), bloody but unbowed, they get off the floor to continue playing and receive more punishment. There are times listening to people try and thump out Christmas carols, I want to throw in the towel crying, “The piano has won.”

...and another thing

Perhaps the best example of hopeless playing was demonstrated by British comedians Morecambe and Wise when they had conductor Andre Previn as a guest. As he tapped his baton, Morecambe dressed in tails played a cacophony of notes of some oompah melody on the piano. Previn asked what he was doing.

“I am playing the piano concerto,” said Morecambe.

“You’re playing all the wrong notes,” replied the Maestro.

Morecambe winced, got up from behind his piano and grabbed Previn’s jacket lapels.

“I am playing all the notes… just not necessarily in the right order.”

Be safe.

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