Strike a Chord!

Or two, or three? Why stop there?

The Daily Post put forth a daily writing challenge that really struck a chord (not even a little bit sorry about the pun) with me.

I have been pretty passionate about music since I was a kid. From “no, don’t turn the car off yet I wanna hear the rest of this song”, to banging pots and pans in the kitchen, there was rarely anything I wouldn’t try to make music with.

My first instrument, as many of you I’m sure can relate, was the Recorder – that god-forsaken, high-pitched ear-crushing thing. My poor parents. If you don’t know what I am speaking of, than perhaps this was a measure of torture reserved for families in Ontario, Canada schools. Essentially it is some half-hearted instrument that might technically be considered a woodwind, but more likely just called a children’s toy (like the toy pianos you buy for toddlers). Believe me, you are not missing anything. I actually caught on to the recorder very quickly, mastering such classics as “Hot Cross Buns”, and “Mary Had a Little Lamb”, and of course “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”. And all the other nursery songs that are just those three with different words. Today, I hear kids playing this thing, and it drives me nuts.

Through my youth I also had a harmonica, which I was only just beginning to really understand before my dad ran it over with a lawnmower (now that I’m older, I wonder if perhaps that was not done on purpose… I may never know). I have always meant to pick up another, just for the hell for the hell of it, but have never gotten around to it.

I should back-step a second here, just to say that the recorder was a 4th grade instrument, and after that we never went back to them (perhaps the volunteer school board voted that one year was more than enough punishment). It was in the 4th grade as well that I joined the school choir. I made it almost the full year, before my teacher did not let us leave class to attend a music meeting, and 6 of us were then kicked out of the group. Oh well.

In the 7th grade, music class stepped up a notch, and we got to play real instruments. We got to vote for what we wanted to play. I chose drums, but as it turns out, they are expensive and nobody was allowed, except for a kid in my class named Aaron, who had taken drum lessons. I was so jealous of that. I got the saxophone, and I wasn’t really a fan. I think this was due one part to having braces (which makes learning a woodwind very difficult — stupid reeds), and complicated further by shyness and general insecurity, so that when I received criticism (or feedback, but from my perspective it was just criticism) in front of the class, I got embarrassed and discouraged. I don’t think I ever took it home to practice, and had a tough time with that class.

I found solace that summer, however, when I started to learn to play the guitar. I wanted to play, so my dad took me to a pawn shop where I spent $100 of my saved-up allowance to buy a 3/4 size nylon-string guitar. I practised day in and day out, and it hurt my hands and fingers like no other, yet I persisted. The next year, my uncle bought me my very first electric guitar (which, 13 years later, I still have and use on the regular).

Thinking back now, I would love to get my hands on a saxophone again. It’s making a comeback, and I love the sound (I played Alto, maybe should have mentioned that before, but it didn’t seem important I suppose).

This past Christmas, I also bought myself a Casio keyboard, and have been self-teaching myself piano (knowing the essentials of guitar helps a lot, I suppose, in chord structuring). Despite similarities to the guitar, it is a challenging instrument to learn, maybe partly due to not learning the proper flow and fingerings, but I am keeping at it, and getting somewhere! Woo-hoo.

Lastly, I have a banjo. It is missing a string, and wildly out of tune, but one day I will buy new strings, figure out what the hell to tune it to, and learn to play. Just so I can play “Dueling Banjos”, haha.


On Aunts and Uncles

The following post was inspired by Writing 101: Post-a-Day Writing Prompts.

With Father’s Day now past, the idea here is to figure out which relative I would dedicate a day to, and why? Now the first thought is grandparents, but really they are just an extension of moms and dads, who have their days (Who doesn’t wish their grandpa or grandma happy Father’s/Mother’s day?), but I am also reasonably confident that there is a grandparents day already in existence.

So why not Aunts and Uncles? I may be biased, in the sense that my dad worked a lot growing up, and my uncle Greg had no kids, and so he was sort of an impromptu father figure. Not out of a want to displace my dad in that position, or that it was forced on him at all, but he lived nearby to my brothers, sister, and I, and his schedule allowed more downtime than my dad’s did, so we did things. From seeing movies, to learning to wrench on cars, to road trips to Florida (From Ontario, Canada, for anyone who cares about the distance involved). You can’t not give credit to a guy who is willing to put his three 13-15-year-old nephews in the back of a rented PT Cruiser and drive for a day and a half, only stopping for food and one overnight stay, each way.

That gets me thinking, even, that I have a lot of friends who are aunts or uncles, and treat their nephews and neices like they are their own. To me, that’s the way it should be. I want kids one day, but I am not ready quite now, and so I am hoping that a brother or sister pulls through for me. The thing is that we celebrate Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and for the sake of argument, grandparent’s day (But, again, grandparents are still mothers and fathers), and all throughout these days, as with Valentine’s Day, we remind one another that we should always take time to tell or show our moms and dads what we love them and care about them. 

Nobody remembers the aunts and uncles, though.

So even though this day will more than likely never happen, if you have an aunt or uncle who has taken time out of their day to pick you up from school, drive you to exams, pick you and a friend up in another town because you got on the wrong bus on your first day of high school, road tripped, or otherwise treated you like their own child, take a minute and just remind them how grateful you are.