The little pianist, violinist, clarinetist, drummer boy

Our guest room has transformed into a percussion studio. There’s a snare drum, a marimba-ish/xylophony instrument, a drum pad, and assorted sticks and mallets where once there was a peaceful rest for weary guests.

Big Brother, the artist formerly known as a clarinetist, and even more formerly known as a violinist, and still kind of known as an occasional pianist, is suddenly a percussionist.

He’s been taking piano lessons for a few years. He’s pretty good. He could probably be really good, but that would require practice, and of course that’s out of the question.

In 5th grade, he had to choose between playing a string instrument or joining the choir. He chose violin, and he hated it slightly less than he hated the idea of singing for an audience. It was an unfortunate choice, because you don’t have to pay hundreds of dollars to rent a voice for the school year, even one that just mouths the words.

Sixth grade brought the option of switching to a wind instrument. His mother still had her clarinet from high school, making the instrument’s cost roughly equal to that of a child’s voice. The small clarinet case was easy to transport to school. It was the perfect situation, until the boy discovered he hated clarinet as much as he hated violin.

A month ago, we got an email from the band teacher. Some students were being allowed to switch to percussion. Big Brother wished to be one of them. This was not a decision to be taken lightly, as it would entail the procurement, at parental expense, of additional apparatus, and (I’m hoping the email didn’t actually say this, but I fear it did) enrolling in private lessons – also at parental expense.

“I have no gift to bring, pa rum pum pum pum. My family spent it all on my drum, on my drum, on my drum.”

I grilled the child about this. Yeah, he told his teacher he wanted to switch to percussion, but he changed his mind. He probably wasn’t even going to audition for it.

Relieved at the false alarm of additional parental expenses, I deleted the teacher’s email and went along with my marginally contented existence.

Last Friday, at my regularly appointed time to nag the kid into practicing his clarinet, he told me, “Oh, I don’t have to do that anymore. I switched to percussion.”

“You said you weren’t going to switch,” I accused.

“Yeah, but then I tried out and the teacher said I was pretty much the best at it.” (Note to band teacher: You just sunk any chance of having him practice by telling him that.)

Monday evening, the boy and his mom were late coming home from his piano lesson. When they finally arrived, they brought boxes. Inside the boxes was my percussion nightmare, lacking only a cluster of tympany. I didn’t ask if we were renting or purchasing; I’m not ready for that info. Either answer is the wrong one.

Let’s see if he ever practices on any of this.

This kid changes instruments as quickly as . . . well . . . as his father did when he was in school. But that’s another story.





34 comments on “The little pianist, violinist, clarinetist, drummer boy

  1. I felt like you blamed the little guy. Instead, I’d talk to the teacher. What do they think switching instruments that often? It’s absolutely ridiculous. Too many options can be hard to handle for an adult, let alone a kid.

  2. GoofyEd says:

    Funny, funny story for us readers. I suspect, not quite so funny as it unfolded.

  3. Do tell the story about Big Brother’s father switching instruments!

  4. Tom W says:

    Do musicians make more money than writers? Will he be able to support you in your old age?

  5. AmyRose🌹 says:

    OHHHHHHH did this ever bring back memories, Scott! You have got ONE noisy house! My brothers had drums, a sister clarinet, and another guitar. I believe there was a trumpet in there too at one time or another. The noise drove me bananas! Scales ….. oh yeah piano too. Me! Haha! Good luck that is all I have to say! Good luck!!

  6. CrankyPants says:

    Too bad there wasn’t a borrowing option/program out there from/for kids who have said instruments that have abandoned them. Or would that be a trading program? Either way it’d probably save a lot of money.

  7. CrankyPants says:

    And should I send you some ear plugs?

  8. thegsandwich says:

    My daughter has been in percussion since 5th grade. She didn’t have to get anything, though I did spring for a snare drum. Come to think of it, maybe this is why she never practices anything but the drum.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.