(Not) Music to my Ears

I do not come from a musical family.  No one can read music, play an instrument or even carry a tune.  Nonetheless, where I grew up, joining the school band or orchestra was a rite of passage.  During elementary school, my sister tried to play the flute.  When she couldn’t get a sound out of it, she switched unsuccessfully to the clarinet.  I played the violin and erroneously thought I was pretty good because I was second chair.  In hindsight, I think I was just the second best of the worst.  In any event, a music career was not in either of our futures.


This horrible photo is the only hard evidence that I actually played the violin.

Fast-forward thirty years and the tradition continues.  When my oldest was in fourth and fifth grades, he took up percussion:  A relatively safe choice that included a simple drum pad and bell kit (think xylophone, but metal and high-pitched).  He practiced regularly that first year and was pretty good, so listening to him was relatively painless.  It was even more painless the second year when he lost interest and conveniently “forgot” his instrument at school each week, which meant he stopped practicing at home.

Now my 9-year-old is playing percussion and it is anything but music to my ears.  At first, I was thrilled because (1) we already have a perfectly good drum pad and bell kit so we didn’t have to pay for another instrument and (2) listening to my first newbie drummer wasn’t a horrible experience, so I figured it wouldn’t be this time around either.

I was wrong — at least on the second count — and now the thrill is gone.

As much as my boys look alike and enjoy many of the same things, they are very different in many ways.  Learning how to play an instrument is one of those ways.  My 9-year-old struggles with the notes and does not understand how to control the volume.  Every drum beat is deafeningly loud.  Every bell note is deafeningly loud and high-pitched.  And because he hasn’t mastered the notes yet, the deafeningly loud sounds he produces are anything but melodious.  I love my son, but listening to him play the drums/bells is killing me slowly.  I realize it’s only been a month since he started lessons, so I can only hope for both our sakes that he improves over time.  He can’t get any worse, right?

So what’s a mom to do until practice makes perfect?  I, for one, am going to search the house for earplugs, put on my ‘good mommy pants’ so I can praise his dedication and fortitude and then say a little prayer that he occasionally “forgets” his instrument in school … Just don’t tell him I said that!


He looks cute, but he’s no Ringo Starr.


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