I attended Little Dude’s 5th grade band concert yesterday and it might have been the most brutal thing I’ve ever heard.
Parents were falling all over themselves to video this debacle. I must be missing some maternal sensitivity chip because I don’t want a shred of evidence of this Cacophony of Horror.
Little Dude plays the sax, and I use the word “plays” lightly.
He’s dreadful. It’s like “Root Canal: The Musical.” I’d like to think he has a little bit of a musical ear, but that might just be because I come from a musical family.
When we weren’t killing each other or getting the shit kicked out of us by our mother, my family was making music together. I’m not much of a musician, but my brothers are incredibly talented and accomplished musicians. Three of the 5 of them were born with perfect pitch.
Much to my dismay, I never realized my potential as a musician. I was intimidated by my talented siblings. But I did grow up around instruments, and it was not unusual for us to have impromptu jam sessions on guitar and/or piano and sing harmonies to popular songs.
If I have any good memories from childhood, those would be it.
Like the pushy Tiger Mom that I am, I drill music into my kid’s head. I want to make sure that he at least exposed to some of what I consider to be “the greats” before he rejects it for trendy, soulless dub step.
When we listen to music in the car, I urge him to listen to it critically. I’m the Most Annoying Parent ever, but I’m trying to train his ear. I pull apart the sounds, and have him zero in on certain instruments. I want him to recognize the incredible bassmanship in Pink Floyd’s “Money”, and to fully appreciate the majestic guitar solo at the end of “Hotel California“. He can listen to a Beatles song and tell me who’s performing the vocals. He doesn’t love punk rock (yet) but he understands its impact in musical history.
When he was picking an instrument for band, I steered him towards sax. A few weeks ago, we were listening to Lenny Kravitz in the car. Little Dude actually stopped talking during the sax solo in “Let Love Rule.” Afterwards he said, “THAT’S why you want me to learn sax, isn’t it?
YES IT IS.
Fast forward to the reality.
So, my kid can’t play the sax. When I nag him to practice, it sounds like Mothra devoured a rural town and is now shitting farm equipment.
Apparently, every kid who plays an instrument in the fifth grade refuses to practice because the sum of them was a horrific violation of sound laws. If there aren’t sound laws, there should be ones that prevent this kind of tuneless caterwauling.
This sounded less like music and more like the agonizing screams of a kitten who accidentally climbed into the radiator fan of your car and was woken up when you turned in the ignition.
I should have prefaced this post by telling you that I have hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to everyday sounds. It’s a bit of a generalized assessment of my condition, because I particularly have a hard time tolerating tinny or static-y music, off-key singing…
Wow. Maybe I’m just a bitch.
But I also have very pronounced misophonia, which is totally legitimate. It’s an acute reaction to certain low volume sounds and it’s REAL. I mean, Kelly Ripa admits to having this, and she’s “look at me playing with my hair and posing” adorable and if she runs from the room screaming when her kids eat popsicles, then it’s gotta be real, right?
The slurping chomping smacking crunching sounds people make when they eat drive me into a blind rage. I have to leave the room when my kid eats cereal or a ceramic bowl will become a lethal weapon.
Little Dude is smart, and a bit of a prankster. He made the mistake of changing my text noise from the normal beep to a Japanese man from ‘Call of Duty World at War’ screaming “BANZAI!” I screamed bloody murder and was certain by the way the entire left side of my body went numb that I was having a heart attack. Don’t mess with my sounds.
So, this concert was the equivalent of slow torture. Not just “synth intro to Van Halen’s Jump” annoying. More like the “agonizing sounds of a conscious man getting his head sawed off” horrific. (Stay away from 4chan. You’ve been warned.)
The concert was worse than the cries of a thousand tormented souls. It was worse than the SSSSKKKKKKKRRRRRRSSSHSHSHCKCKCKKKBRKACKGRAZNCKIRGUSHTERBOFPK of a car accident.
You know how people choose to vacation in the Middle East because it’s cheap and accidentally end up near an active war zone? That’s what this concert sounded like. Like coyotes devouring a live raccoon.
I had all but decided that music is just not my kid’s thing. Last night on the way home from a school event, we were listening to Lenny Kravitz. I asked Little Dude, “Can you hear the influence of the Beatles in Lenny Kravitz’s music?”
He said he did. I persisted a bit. I enjoy irritating him when he’s trapped in the car.
“Please doesn’t just say yes to shut me up. Do you really hear it? Where?”
He listened for a while. And then “I Build This Garden” came on.
“There Mama, right there. This song is very Beatle-ish, like ‘Eleanor Rigby’.”
Fuck if he wasn’t right on the money. The song contains driving rock guitar riffs blended with orchestral strings, in a total Beatles sonic tribute.
This was music to my ears.
I’m going to invest in private lessons. And some really good quality ear plugs.
Do you ever force feed your kid stuff, especially if it’s something you love?
Did you come from a musical family? Do you think music is important to kids’ development?
Do you have an aversion to certain sounds?
Do I just bug the crap out of my kid?
Talk to me. I’m listening.