Last year, Noah started showing an interest in music. We decided he should try band in middle school to learn an instrument. We thought drums would end up being his thing, since the child has an unnatural affection for sticks. He walks home from school every day with a new stick in his hand. We have accumulated enough sticks to have a really nice bonfire when the weather turns cooler. He doesn’t just carry the sticks. He whittles the sticks, makes things with the sticks and keeps trying to bring his “favorites” into his room. We may have given him guitar hero at a vulnerable time, because he went to school last week and found out that there is no guitar option in middle school band. Upon learning this, he immediately changed his elective to p.e. We were more than a little annoyed that he could make a major schedule change without our signatures. Calls were made. Families meetings were held. He got put back in band class.
That very same day, the teacher gave the students a mini-tour of their instrument options and after numbering their favorites in order, the form was sent home for parent signatures. Noah’s first choice was the flute. “Because the teacher said it’s the lightest, smallest and easiest.” His second choice was the trumpet. “It’s just three buttons.” His third choice was the saxophone. “Granddaddy said it’s really cool and girls like it.” More family meetings ensued. We were over bearing parents and pretty much vetoed the flute. We added in percussion with long explanations that if you learn to play one instrument, learning others will be easier. We also talked about sticks, hitting things and not having to learn serious breath control. I didn’t mention my worry that his frequent nosebleeds would interfere with playing a brass instrument.
On Friday, the music assignments came home. He would be learning a percussion instrument, but it was a “bell kit” that Noah described as being a xylophone. The boys were leaving before dawn the next day, I would have no car and the instrument was due on Monday. I quickly did Internet research on the cost of used instruments while Doug called the store which gets all of our county’s student musician business. We were advised to rent, since this was a “transitional” instrument used to better place students. Everyone piled in the van and we flew across town. Big piles of rental instruments were laid out like an assembly line to get clueless parents and students in and out of the store quickly. It wasn’t quick enough. Amy wanted every pink thing in the store and all the “cute little” instruments. Evan tested every guitar before settling in to a tiny drum set, planning to give everyone an earful. I couldn’t get the children out of there fast enough. We were tricked into buying two kazoos, so Amy played a very disturbing version of “Smoke on the Water” the entire drive to karate class. Now Noah has an instrument that he hasn’t even tried yet. “We just stomped our feet and slapped our knees today.” Somebody had better play ‘Jingle Bells’ on that thing this Christmas.