Monday, March 7, 2011


We've been entertained for the last few weeks by the dulcet tones of Alison and her brand new recorder.

She started out with the old standards -- Mary Had a Little Lamb and Hot Cross Buns -- and has finally mastered Ode to Joy and When the Saints Go Marching In.

It's been a journey filled with squeaks and slurps and more than a little frustration. But enough about Jeff and my reactions...

Yesterday she reached a high mark. "Mom! Mom! Look! I can play all of Ode to Joy with my eyes closed!"

After the applause ended, I reminded her that she'd be marching in the Indianapolis St. Patrick's Day parade and it might be smart of her to try marching and playing at the same time. That kept her honking and squeaking for most of the evening.

It brought me back to my days of forced clarinet playing. My siblings were not so gentle listeners to me as I am proving to be to my daughter. I was invited (not so gently) to go practice my craft outside. I ended up down at the creek at one point. I can't remember if I dragged it up in the big maple tree in the front yard or not.

I read a lot of books up in that tree. Years later I was talking about that and looking fondly up at that tree, my dad started laughing. Seems that tree was the nesting place of a family of black snakes. I'm petrified of snakes and he knew it. I think he must have spent hours watching me in that tree just waiting for the day I'd look up from an exciting chapter only to come face to face with a serpent and fall right down.

It wouldn't have mattered if I'd broken bones or brought the snake down with me, I'd have been dead of fright before I hit the ground. Oh my god. Can you imagine me charming those snakes with my clarinet?! Ack. I guess I wasn't very charming, thank God.

Anyway, I've been encouraging the recorder practice and marching practice. I'll even go watch her, although parades and maple trees hold the same amount of attraction to me, which is to say none at all.

After years of marching with the clarinet, Shakamak High School had a surplus of the licorice sticks in my junior or senior year. I moved onto the percussion section where the boys were. When the band instructor discovered (right after the parade where I made my bells debut) that I couldn't play piano and therefore hadn't a clue how to bang out a tune on the bells, he was in a quandary. All the snare drums were taken -- not that I could make a drum roll to save my life -- but he did believe that I could count to four.

So he gave me to the bass drum. And yes, I meant that I was given to it. The bass drum is big. Really big. I was no taller then than I am now -- 5'4" on a good day.

I think Mr. Scott looked at me as comic relief more than anything. His testament to my musical career involved more of a dissertation on how many romance novels I read during band practice than it did my reed or stick work.

So throughout parade season -- the sticky, sweaty, Indiana summertime -- there I'd be: wearing a long-sleeved, long pants, wool suit, a goofy at with a plastic neck strap tasked with keeping the beat but totally without a speck of rhythm in my genetic code.

The drum would tip me forward so I had to lean back to keep upright and hope to high hell I was walking in the right direction. Looking down wouldn't have helped -- I couldn't see my feet for the drum.

It was actually good training for pregnancy. But I digress.

I'm sure Alison will have a much better parade experience than I. If anything, she'll be a little chilly if the weather doesn't break. If you need a little culture, I'm certain I know a little redhead who will serenade you. Let me know and I'll find you a front row seat.

Or you can meet me at the parade. I'll be the one cheering on any short girls attached to bass drums....

1 comment:

Jen & Peter said...

Hmmm - we ARE still looking for some wedding cocktail hour musical entertainment....