January 15, 2013
When I was in fourth or fifth grade I started taking viola lessons. I'll be totally honest with you. The only reason I chose the viola was that I was in a phase where I avoided doing anything anyone else did. All the girls were reading The Babysitter Club, so I read Trixie Belden. All the girls were making beaded safety pins so I made friendship bracelets. Everyone else chose violin, so I chose viola. Given a broader choice of instruments I would have gone with an oboe or a bassoon because I knew from an old Sesame Street Visits the Orchestra record that not very many people played those. But my choices were violin, viola and bass, and no one chose viola, so that was for me.
I was pretty terrible at the viola. I didn't like to practice and reading music was a struggle for me. But the one good thing about being the only viola in an orchestra is that you are always first chair, because there's no one else to do it. So I plugged away at it. My dad, who was a columnist in our town newspaper at the time, wrote a column dedicated to just how terrible I was (in a kind, fatherly, oh god it's so noisy and horrible kind of way of course). This meant that everyone in town knew how bad I was. But I was kind of used to that, so it didn't horrify me too much.
This year Briton is taking guitar lessons after school and he, like his mama, hates to practice and struggles with reading music, but I hope he pushes on with it. Guitar is a much handier kind of instrument to be able to play. You can't really pull out a viola at a college party and fiddle away on the couch after all. So hopefully...I've been secretly practicing the same lessons that he is learning once a week while he's at school. Partly because I want to be able to know what he's doing so I can help him and partly because I regret not carrying on with an instrument.
It's nice to have music in the house. Even slightly terrible, halting, renditions of "When the Saints Come Marching In." It's nice. Play on, boy-o.
Posted by Gillian