Music Appreciation 101

Every week for half an hour I sit in the lobby of the little Calliope Music Studios, where my nine year old takes guitar lessons. This week, a young girl battles with Carol of the Bells on the piano while her visiting grandmother sits in. Down the hall, one of the instructors is practicing her piano, the notes flying so rapidly that I am forced to imagine her fingers. Across from her studio, the low voice of the guitar teacher and my son’s rendition of movie themes: Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, James Bond.

In the cacophony, there is a sense of peace, and appreciation for the focus of each student, and understanding of how far they will have to go before their fingers fly seemingly without effort across their chosen instrument.

My son makes his teacher laugh. He begs for a piece of gum, given to those who practice well, and probably those who do not. With his free hand, I know from watching him practice, he brushes his too-long bangs to the side between musical phrases.

I wonder if a child decides to be inspired, or if one is simply lucky to be moved by some inexplicable connection with a song, a teacher. Do they realize a sense of peace in the middle of their lesson, or the mingling of unassociated piano, guitar, saxophone down at the far end of the hall? Is there satisfaction felt just in the act of successfully connecting the notes?

There is too much noise in our house to listen to music. I rarely turn it on. So every week for half an hour, I sit in the lobby of a little music school listening to notes that do not go together, to children still stumbling over the hard parts, to clumsy scales, to Carol of the Bells before it is ready for recital, and it is in those moments that I appreciate music.

An Unusual First Play on Electric Guitar

My nine year old has been taking guitar lessons, but he had never played an electric guitar before yesterday.

Picture it. A nine year old in khakis, pale yellow tie and blue blazer. School gym. Grandparents’ Day.

The music teacher hands him an electric guitar at morning rehearsal so he won’t be drowned out on his classical. In his debut performance, he rocks out before an audience with an average age of seventy-five.

The concert is followed by, “I need an electric guitar.”