Sunday, 5 May 2013


'i can play four musical instruments'
she announces proudly to the circle of children
(she's forgetting the choir)
she's been having lessons on violin and piano for a couple of years now
working her way through the grades
mostly classical stuff
a little popular and jazz
she's played in the school orchestra at the conservatoire
now she's learning the entertainer on piano
a mark of pianoship in my humble opinion
she's auditioning for the city's youth orchestra on violin
britten's young person's guide to the orchestra no less
the trombone is a new thing
she has weekly lessons at school with a few other kids
she wanted to play an instrument that made a loud noise
something that packed a punch
she seemed to pick up the mouth position almost straight away
she also has the requisite lung power to blast my ears
(and annoy the neighbours)
unlike the struggle with the piano and violin
no one has to ask her to do her trombone practice
within weeks she was improvising her way through a live performance
back at the conservatoire
i bought her a three quarter size classical guitar for her tenth birthday
i was confident that she would reward my investment
but this is going to be her dabble instrument
she asked me how i play my songs
i showed her a few chords to get her fingers moving
a basic right-hand strumming technique
a simple fingerpicking pattern
and she was away
she can sing and play yellow bird (high up in banana tree)
she likes picking out the augmented pattern of my song coalesce
which i find tricky to play myself
i am even showing her how to play back to the old house by the smiths
no pressure
no formal teacher
no weekly lessons
let her find her own way
explore her own avenues
just as i did at her age

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