Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"I think it would be cool to learn an instrument"

Updated to add: Jeanette, you're right ... I don't even let my kids drink out of public water fountains, so the thought of them sharing a mouthpiece on a rental instrument makes my heart stop. :)

Its a brand new instrument, on a rent-to-own basis. Kellen is the only person who plays it; he carries it to and from the school each day. Which is a bit of a hassle since we walk, but maybe the money we save on gas can go towards the saxophone ... who knew they were so expensive??? I shudder to think what bigger instruments must cost!

I'm not sure if I mentioned previously, but Kellen quit piano after a year and a half of lessons.

It liked to have killed me.

Not because I think he was any kind of prodigy, but because, as you might remember from when I blogged about it here, music was such a big part of my life growing up, and then I quit, and have regretted it ever since.

I played for seven years before quitting, and Kellen had only been at it a year and a half, but I know that at some point, at some time in the future, he will regret it too.

Typically, like thousands of parents before me, I got tired of the "practice or else!" routine. I tried reason, I tried begging, I tried demanding, I tried bribing. Nothing worked.

What bothered me even more is that Kellen actually loved playing the piano, and would have happily continued lessons as long as I would have let him .... he just balked at practicing. So I balked at paying for the lessons. Clearly, a lose-lose situation, so after several months of fussing and arguing, we agreed he could quit after the spring recital last May.

Kendrie is plugging along, but is also starting to be pretty lax about practicing, which discourages me. But again, the choice is hers --- if she wants to continue lessons, she has to do her part, which is the homework.


Last May, shortly after Kellen quit piano, he brought home the "elective" form for middle school this year. He had already filled it out with the classes he was interested in taking and needed me to sign it so he could turn it back in.

Although I have talked to the kids about my experiences in junior high and high school band, and how much I loved it, until this happened, I was still surprised to see that he had selected Beginners Band.

"Really?" I asked, "You want to take band?"

"Well, yeah," Kellen replied, "I think it would be cool to learn an instrument."


Deep down, I'll admit, I was thrilled. Maybe he really loves music, and piano just wasn't his gig. Hopefully the year and a half he took lessons will give him a wee bit of a foundation for band. If we're lucky, it will be a great group of kids, with a great director, and this will be the beginning of a wonderful, lengthy hobby/skill/talent.

Or, maybe he'll quit after one year, and all that instrument rental money will be in the toilet, who knows?

But school started, and band started, and so far, so good.

I had gone in on "Instrument Rental" night and met the director. I mentioned to him that I had played in this same school band twenty-five years ago ....

He knows my old director, the one that I loved so much.

I got excited, talking to the current director. He seems like a nice guy, and I started imagining Kellen doing the same things I did so many years ago, in the same band, and loving it as much as I did.

I imagined him practicing on the same football field, and marching in the same stadium. I imagined him having early morning practices, just like I did. I imagined him marching up and down the streets of our small town, just like I did.

Man, I LOVE living in a small town!!!!

Every day after school I ask Kellen "how was band today?" and the first two weeks of school, he had a good report every day. Then apparently the director had an illness in his family, then had some health issues himself, and missed quite a bit of school. Kellen started saying, "We had a sub" way more than I liked, and a few days were "free time" to read or visit or whatever. I understand these things happen, but I couldn't help but hope something would change. I want Kellen to love band just as much as I did ....

Then, Kellen came home last week and said, "We had a new sub today who knows a lot about music. He's going to be a sort of helper for us."

And I thought, "Oh, good! I'm glad to hear that!"

"How did it go? Did you like the helper?" I asked.

"Yeah. In fact, he said he used to teach at this school and he might know you." Kellen stated.

"He might know ME???" I asked, wondering who on earth ............

"Well, that he might know some of our parents, if any of our parents were in the band ...."

I sat for a minute, thinking ....

Wondering .....

Realizing ......

Aaaaawwwwwwwwwwwwww, no. HECK, no.

Yep, it was the same director who took over for my beloved director when I was in high school. The director who I was such a little obnoxious shit towards, and am ashamed to this day of how I treated him. I have not spoken to him since high school, but have oftentimes envisioned the apology I will make if I ever encounter him again.

Looks like I just might get my chance.

Man, I HATE living in a small town.


Sharon C said...

LOL! Kristie, you NEVER cease to bring a smile to my face or a chuckle to my belly! thanks for the early morning laugh. I LOVE the glimpses into "small town America" and am relieved to know those towns and those communities are still out there. Good luck with that apology!!

Love Being a Nonny said...

Once again, you brightened my morning. I too live in a small town (after being raised in a bigger city). You have to take the good with the bad here. In high school, my boys use to say *Don't ever even THINK about skipping school. Mom will know it before the school day is even over.* Yeh, there is good. And there is bad. :)

Tracy said...

Ahhh, the sweet sounds of someone learning the sax. I thought, 9 yrs. ago, when my daughter started 6th grade band, that she would bring home a sweet little flute. She brought home an alto sax. Our poor dog was never the same. Whenever she would practice, my husband and I would look at each other and say "the moose is loose!" She loved band as much as you, and ended up being first chair in high school, played in the jazz band, and even in an ensemble at church. Now she marches with the Redcoat Band at the University of Georgia (on the flagline). She has many great memories and has gone many places she never would have gone if she hadn't been involved in band (including China). Hope Kellen's experience is half as great as Katie's!!

Anonymous said...

"What goes around, comes around", they say. You'll all do fine, I am sure of it.

My kids have had some piano lessons over the years. I never did but my mom did (for 12 years) and hated it.

I wanted to be sure that my kids stayed on just-this-side of the line of loving/hating lessons.

My solution? I found high school kids to teach the lessons. The HS kids needed spending money and taught well, but there was never the seriousness (and the recitals) of older teachers whose livelihoods were based on the lessons.


Tracy said...

School band instruments are notoriously expensive. If Kellen decides he's serious, check out this website:

We bought my daughter's flute through them and are very happy with it.

Love your stories!

vgsmom said...

You crack me up! Enough Said!

Leeann said...

Tracy cracked me up in her comment about the dog and the sax. Chris has been playing sax for two plus years now and when he is practicing there is NO WHERE TO HIDE! lol I have to go outside to talk on the phone, and even then I can hear it! lol

At least he is able to play some cool songs now, like Smashmouth and the Beatles!

Sally said...

First the the band sub...

I think that is great and hopefully he has wonderful memories of the band. I wasn't in band, but I did have to take a 9 week course on it in 7th grade. I played my brother's trombone that he carried back and forth to school every day because there was NO was I was going to do it!!!

My daughter has followed in her uncle's shoes and is playing the trombone in band too...this is her first year as well!!

Good luck with that...and you must not have scarred the director too bad...he is still teaching!!

Karen - Mommy to four sweeties said...

How funny! Keep us informed on that one.
My oldest daughter played Alto Sax in 6th and 7th grades before dropping out in 8th.
My twin daughters are in their second year of band playing Clarinet and French Horn.

Anonymous said...

Good thing Kellen is a perfect, sweet student. He will have to think you turned out ok after all...right?! Is the sax as loud as J's trumpet??? Maybe your tuned ear handles is better than mine. Pass the Motrin! :) Kim

p.s. waiting for Jacob to get home from school...just got cut from the soccer team on final cuts today. My poor baby! His first disapointment! :(

Lucy and Ethel said...

What fun these music posts are!

Yep, life in a small town :)


Melissa said...

I took piano lessons for eight years and can't play a note to this day! It just wasn't my forte, I wanted to quit but my mom insisted I continue. I just wish I had the talent,I would love to be able to sit down and play. I read your old post about your band experience and I have to say that the situation in my small town mirrored yours almost exactly. I played flute in band,and was in drill team during marching season, and I have to say that it was one of the best times in my life. Our school had a LEGENDARY director who had been there many years, and our band had never gotten less than straight superiors at contests. I loved our director, we all did, and our band was one of the best in the state. He left and moved out of state after my senior year--thank God I had already graduated--and the band basically went with him. They dropped from about 130 members to about 30, and went years without a single superior rating. It's been about 25 years and the band still hasn't completely recovered and rebounded to what it was in it's heyday. Doesn't help that they've had several changes of band director over the years, either.

Pam D said...

Too funny! I love the pics of Kellen, too. My son picked band (they have music electives starting in FOURTH grade at his school, oh yay), and he ended up with the trombone. It's pretty funny. In a headachey sort of way. He usually practices on the screen porch; I never realized how effective a trombone can be as a squirrel deterrent. Have fun... and enjoy meeting the interim band director (again).

Anonymous said...

That's so cool that Kellen is playing saxophone! My son started piano in 2nd grade and took lessons through 9th grade when he got too busy to fit it in. He started saxophone in 7th grade and is now majoring in Music Industry and marching in his college band and playing in the symphony. His piano teacher told me when he started to never force him to practice unless he had a competition coming up or something. I took her advice and some weeks he wouldn't practice a whole lot, but other weeks he couldn't walk by the piano without stopping to play. I sure miss hearing him pound away on the piano. His girlfriend plays beautifully, too, so there's always music in the air when they're visiting! I hope Stellan has as much fun as my son has had! :)

Gayle in AL

Jeanette in GA said...

I feel your pain. I really do.

Hope all is going well with the sax! (i.e., Hope it doesn't sound like cats fighting :))

Something just occured to me- as much of a germaphobe as you are how could you stand to put your lips on a rental instrument? Or do you get a completely new mouthpiece?

Just wondered!

Marysienka said...

LOL! What a week for you!

I used to play sax in my HS band. I loved it so much, and today I only keep great memories from that time. I've always played the piano, from as long as I can remember, but never took lessons. I took violin lessons as a kid for 2 yrs, and guitar lessons as well, but quit because I couldn't stand being told what to play! Sure, I can play by ear and read music, but when I have an instrument in my hands, I want to play what *I* want (or what the band wants!). Practicing a song (especially when I didn't like it) for someone else wasn't for me ;)

Good luck with the sax, it kind of makes a lot of noise he he he ;)
Love the pics, by the way!


Anonymous said...

I bought a used sax on eBay for BIG Foot. It was well worth it...besides I am deaf after hearing 3 kids play Hot Cross Buns a zillion times!


Anonymous said...

Wait til you have to pay for the pro model!! :)

Gayle in AL

kimi said...

I love your stories about small town USA. I grew up in the "big city" in Canada - public bus to school and all. My graduating class had over 1,000 kids in it!!

Thank you for sharing your life with all of us!


Haley said...

When I was in middle school, I played the baritone, which is a small step down from the tuba. Because of its size, the school provided it, and I only had to lug it home on weekends. The case took up a whole bus seat! I also got to keep it over the summer to "practice"...which more or less entailed putting the thing in a corner and not looking at it until August. :)

Jennifer of Woodstock, GA said...

My son is playing an instrument this year also - 7th grade - trombone. It is also big and bulky to carry back and forth to school, but just like your son, my son is renting a brand new trombone and is the ONLY one who touches it! I would never dream of sharing an instrument...GROSS! It's been fun watching him play. I can't wait to see their first performance as a group!