The UPS guy just dropped off a package, but I had to go outside to chat with him because there was a tenor sax and a bassoon wailing in the house. Actually, the latter was a tromboon, called such become my son took the mouthpiece and reed from his bassoon, stuck it in his trombone and then blew. That’s about as nerdy as you can get when it comes to band geekism.
But before he left the UPS guy asked me:
How did you get your kids so involved in music?
I get asked this a lot. And I always laugh inside at this question because my husband and I didn’t pick music for our kids. Our kids picked music for themselves…in a big way.
As I’ve mentioned before, our two teenage sons play a slew of instruments, mostly woodwinds. We don’t even buy them, and yet somehow the strangest noisemakers mysteriously show up in our house! (Although in the long run, we usually end up coughing up the cash to purchase or rent our own versions. Once the kids get even remotely proficient on the darn things they insist on upgrading. It’s kind of like letting your kids get hooked on crack, except that with musical instruments there is a possibility they can use their talent to pay for college without getting arrested.)
I’m telling you, when people hear that your kids practice everyone comes out of the woodwork bearing unused musical instruments they are more than happy to get out of their houses. “Call it a permanent loan,” they say.
I’m still not exactly sure where the oboe came from. One day I heard this funky noise, like a duck being slaughtered, coming from my son’s room, and I ran in to find this scrawny reed instrument glued to my kid’s lips. At first I thought maybe our bassoon and flute got together and created a love child. But then I heard a rumor that the band teacher at the high school lent him an oboe so he could practice at home over the summer. Do they really do that? I thought. Hand over an exotic instrument like that to just anyone? Yes, they do. If it’s an oboe. P.S. Earplugs not included.
And then there are the concerts, recitals, band tours, and competitions, not to mention the cost of instrument repairs, band uniforms, sheet music, airline tickets (for the band tours), and of course now I’m going to varsity football games, even though I hate football, just so I can watch my nerdy little band geek boys play Queen’s We are the Champions on the saxophone and flute every time some Neanderthal scores a touchdown.
Suddenly I’m clocking in more mileage on my Subaru Outback than a bus driver on tour with the Grateful Dead and forking out more cash than a busted ATM machine.
Whine, whine, whine…well then, if it’s so darn inconvenient, expensive, time consuming, and sometimes even heartbreaking (for example, when your kid doesn’t perform well even after he’s practiced a piece more hours than he sleeps in a week) then why do my husband and I do it?
We do it because every time one of my sons performs a solo that people applaud wildly for I see a little more confidence in his face. We do it because now my kids FINALLY understand what it means to be on a successful team, even though they aren’t competitive. We do it because art and music are the first to go in school district budget cuts, and that breaks our hearts. We do it because music teachers are overworked and underpaid, yet they’ll give up entire weeks of their summer (without pay) to put together a marching band for a small-town Fourth of July parade. We do it because it keeps our kids busy and out of trouble. We do it because it may pay for their college someday. But most of all, we do it because it’s their passion, and I can’t think of anything more rewarding than watching my kid do something he loves (even if sometimes it sounds like a sick cow—I’m talking about you, bassoon).
So prove my point, feast your ears on my 16-year-old son, Derrick, doing his best David Sanborn impression, backed up by the Park City High School Varsity Jazz Band (directed by Chris Taylor). There is no way a stand-up comedy career could EVER hold a candle to this:
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Stacy Dymalski is a stand-up comic who gave up the glamorous life of coach travel, smokey comedy clubs, and heckling drunks for the glamourous life of raising kids (who happen to be bigger hecklers than the drunks). This blog is her new stage.
For more of Stacy’s comedy check out her hilarious book Confessions of a Band Geek Mom available in paperback and on Kindle on Amazon.com.