the ballad of Noah

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.

19 thoughts on “the ballad of Noah

  1. Cathy, I think I know which store you had to go to, which is fine, but Bandland (which I heard about after we got into band) seems more reasonably priced, very friendly, willing to help find used stuff, etc. It’s next to Cotton Eyed Joe. I was really impressed being a band newbie myself at how helpful they were and did not try to sell us the most expensive item or things we didn’t need.

  2. Man, I did the music thing yesterday too. Flat out, balls to the wall rush to get to Lunsford before it closes to get MastaG’s trombone. Ugly, ugly scene, man.
    I have drums at the house, got em for G a few years ago for christmas, where they’ve been used as a set piece for the boys action figures just about ever since (except for the occasions that I play the things myself). I figured “what kid wouldn’t like drums?”, and he was asking, so I was buyin, but it just never worked out.

  3. Summer loves to sing “Smoke on the Water”! Her version is very rock and roll too. Maybe her and Amy can start a girl band when they get older.

  4. You actually WANT him have drums in the house??? Gad when I wanted drums as a kid, I ended up with the clarinet LOL Obviously you are WAYYYY cooler parents than mine were (plus you don’t seem to like the “noise” that will go along with a snare LOL)

  5. Music needs to start early. At least by 4th grade (like it used to Knoxville schools), and really before that.

    Apparently, though, guitar can be picked up at any age, judging from the popular bands these days.

  6. Gabe WILL have a drum set… some day. It will be an electronic set. I’m just trying to justify spending 4-5k on a set good enough for “him”.

  7. I know quite a few boys that play flute, and do it well. Heck, Sir James Galway is a master!

    Most boys I know that play though only did it to be in there with the chicks. (They still learned and were good at it though!)

    Flute, sax, trumpet, drums…I are musical.

  8. Hmm… maybe that didn’t come off so well. So to speak.

    They all played solo flute. How’s that?

  9. The boy I was referring to was a wonderful flute player. He was first chair and was impressive. But he was teased. It was high school and he was different. I never teased him but I also never said anything otherwise.

  10. When my son wanted to play drums in middle school, he was told, nope, too many kids wanna play drums, so play the trumpet. Turns out there were like 50 million trumpet players (most of whom likely wanted to play the drums) Family rule – finish what you start. So he stuck out sixth grade middle school band and then he was allowed, since he still disliked the trumpet as much as he thought, to move to chorus. I’m clueless as to why kids HAVE to take music in middle school – why not a choice of fine arts/music, even pe/gym or science olympics? Luckily, we rented the trumpet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.