Music has always been an important part of my family. My father plays the trumpet, the french horn and sings in his church choir when he has the time. My mother plays the piano and trained to be a professional opera singer (though she decided to have children instead of going into it as a career in the end.) She also writes and arranges music or the piano, voice, string and woodwind. My mother taught all of us some piano and how to sing correctly (posture and breathing and all that). None of us escaped picking an instrument to learn on the side.
My eldest sister learned a little guitar and flute, though she never went farther than the basics with those two. She did learn to compose and write her own piano and vocal music.
My second eldest sister learned the trumpet and was in every band available from ninth grade on. She is also very skilled with the piano and her voice.
My third eldest sister learned a little bit of everything as she majored in Music Education in college and actually taught orchestra, band and a little choir before having children. She still teaches piano and violin and has her own drum set (among other instruments: flute, clarinet, organ, etc.)
My elder brother learned clarinet. He didn’t go very far on the piano because he just didn’t want to. (You can make a child sit at the piano for an hour; you can’t make him press any of the keys.)
My fourth elder sister learned trumpet and a little guitar. She was fairly good at the piano, but loved her art more than her music. She was in the A Capella Choir in her senior year of high school.
My youngest sister is very talented musically. She mostly learned the trumpet and singing. She did take some piano but quit because of other interests. When she was a teenager, she taught herself to play the piano by ear using only what little she remembered from grade school. She also was in high school choirs and bands with her trumpet. She learned a little guitar and a little flute and learns most instruments fairly quickly. (Lucky girl…)
My youngest brother (the baby of the family) learned the trumpet and voice as well, but he did not pursue either beyond middle school (although he does sing in our church choir as well.)
I learned slightly more piano than some of my siblings, but never got to the same proficiency as my eldest three sisters. I learned the flute and all but mastered it though it was a very large struggle. (I once spent three months learning how to play three notes. And at least one month before that on my posture alone.) Like the others I also learned some voice and took part in choir in high school and then the church choir.
The flute, on the other hand, was hard. It took me several years before middle school with a private teacher (friend of one of my elder sisters who played beautifully and was a great teacher!) Many people thought later that I was a genius with the flute. I was not. I hated learning that instrument and it left me many times in tears, in frustration, in the physical need to chuck that thing at the nearest wall screaming.
I didn’t, but some days it felt like a very near thing.
I had initially picked the flute because my eldest sister had played it for a bit and then given it up. I had loved the sounds she could coax out of it and thought that I would learn it easily enough.
That did not happen.
I spent the first year only having learned one note and that from the other players in my little elementary school band. The teacher, a man that wasn’t the best teacher, didn’t like me. He didn’t do very much with the flute players in his band (he mostly ignored us even though we were in the front of the group). He informed me once that I would never learn how to play the flute.
I don’t like being told I can’t do something like that.
I decided that I was going to learn that woodwind if it killed me.
It didn’t, but it was still a great pain in my neck. (Have you ever had to practice holding up a rod on metal for thirty minutes without the end dipping too high or too low? My teacher used a pencil in the end and if it moved then I had to start all over again. I had to do this for practice every single day until I could do it and play and not dip the end of my flute and wreck my posture and breathing.)
The only thing I had going for me with music was that I had perfect pitch. I had to learn everything else the hard way. I didn’t mind doing so as my mother taught me that if you really want something, you will see it through and do it right.
No power in the verse can stop me. -River Tam, “Firefly”
On the bright side, my parents had purchased most of the instruments prior to ever having children when my dad was in the Air Force. Even with little money as children had a nice selection of musical instruments to learn from without having to worry about rental costs.
Music comes easily to some of my siblings, but we all have a passion for learning it even if our reasons differ.
Written in response to today’s Daily Post prompt: https://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/02/25/daily-prompt-we-got-the-beat/
If you have the persistence to learn something that you’re bad at (and trust me, I was truly awful) then you have the guts to do just about anything with your life.