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Stinkle Stinkle Little Star- Tommy

posted 9/18/2009 12:16:58 PM |
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  Wordsofwit

This a corollary to Dione's blog on criticism.

Another factor related to criticism involves people wanting to do something creative or artistic when they lack the natural talent for doing so. If encouraged with too much praise it can be like the Emperor's New Clothes. When reality finally prevails it can be quite humiliating.

In my case, it was in, I believe, the fourth grade. I had always loved music and wanted to be a rock and roll guitarist. My dad would have none of that. However, my parents did relent in a way and would let me take music at school. Of course, a Les Paul was not one of the instruments available. I have no recollection of how or why I selected the clarinet. My dad was in education and had connections, so I wound up with a pretty good one that didn't cost them too much. I even started taking an interest in the big band music that they enjoyed. This pleased them mightily.

Well, off I went in my ill-fated quest to be a musician. I diligently practiced and did all of the right things with my mother constantly telling me how much better I was getting. In reality I only got a little less terrible week by week. I wanted to be good and bought into her accolades and chose to delude myself by ignoring what I was actually hearing. I simply lacked then, and still lack, dexterity and being a musician was never going to happen.

My dad largely tuned it out. In fact, my after school routine was changed so that I practiced immediately after coming home before I did any homework so my dad didn't have to listen to the instrument being mangled.

After a while, our first big day was looming, a solo. Everybody was going to play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in front of the whole class. As we got a few days out from the big day, I just wasn’t getting it. My mother was not praising me anymore but encouraged me to practice more much to my dad’s chagrin. “Practice makes perfect,” she would say. What a line of bullshit that was in this case.

The big day came. I was one of last ones to “play”. A few kids played very well, most were mediocre, some were awful, and all were better than I was. The only note I got right was the first one. By the fifth note the laughter began. By the time I was halfway through the laughter was louder than my squeaking and squawking. Then my damned reed split and the noises really became horrendous as if a loon was being tortured.

It remains the longest 20/30 seconds of my life. The laughter continued on past my desecration of the instrument. Mr. Hoover, our music teacher, finally had to ask the class to pipe down.

When I got home, my mom was soothing and I was glum. I now hated the clarinet as well as felt like a loser. After asking how things went at school, she asked me if I enjoyed playing the clarinet and I said I didn’t. She told me that I didn’t need to continue and that she was proud that I tried my best. I found out about 30 years later that Mr. Hoover had called her after the debacle and told her it was hopeless.

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Comments:

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dmbchick420

Sep 18 @ 12:26PM  
I played clarinet from 6th through 8th grade and then gave it up. I just wasn't into it and I didn't want to be a "band geek". I used to play piano too, but I was more concerned with playing with my friends than practicing. I regret not keeping up with the piano...it is such a beautiful instrument......I have even thought about trying to do it again, but I don't know.

I have a few humiliating stories from school, but I'd rather not share them. They don't involve my instrument playing though.
NightOfOld

Sep 18 @ 12:28PM  



Ewe_Wish

Sep 18 @ 12:29PM  
Sounds like my mechanical abilities........in high school i took a class called Powder Puff Mechanics.........for girls only...........everyday the instructor told me how much better i was getting............until i blew up his mock engine and filled the school with smoke.............I had to report to the library for study hall after that.............I have no delusions that I am any better today than i was then............ (But i did become the hero of the school that day as they had to let school out at 11a...
flavorbuster

Sep 18 @ 12:36PM  
Here is a Kudo
Wordsofwit

Sep 18 @ 12:56PM  
i blew up his mock engine and filled the school with smoke

I took handy crafts in high school. It involved making jewelry, decorations, and things using plastics, copper, and ceramics. When we were making jewelry, I chose to make an iron cross out of copper with powdered dark glass baked onto the top. When we went to class there was a sign on the door to report to the cafeteria. Somebody earlier had put a rubber erasure in the kiln used to melt the powdered glass and fire ceramics. It stunk up the shop so bad that we had an extra study hall in the cafeteria for two days.
soft_touch938

online now!
Sep 18 @ 1:00PM  
I like this blog...yep!

I think most of us do have memories similar to this and in all kinds of categories.

I am completely and unequivocally "in love" with organ music. I taught myself to play first on an accordian, then a chord organ then graduated to a real organ with a rhythm section.

With endless hours of practice I'm somewhere between ameteur and really good. I went to this tiny church...mostly relatives...and to them I was better than nothing. Those who enjoyed the organ loved it....those who didn't....didn't.

So where was the humiliation in this? Those who expected me to play beyond my abilities...you know..."Can't you play anything a FASTER???"

I look back on those years in disbelief that I actually stuck with it for TEN YEARS! I never once sat down on that organ bench when I wasn't scared witless with shaking hands and nausea stirring in my gut.
sugarnspice005

Sep 18 @ 5:27PM  
I took a guitar class in the 9th grade. I got a B+ in it. Of course, it was acoustic guitars, not electric..which was what I really wanted to play. One thing I learned really quick was, if you have never played before, or, it had been a while, holding those strings down for the notes is going to KILL your fingertips until the callouses form. I did enjoy it, had fun in the class. My parents got me a guitar for Christmas that year, and while I loved it, I lost interest in it after about a year. Not only that, but a cousin who thought he knew it all, had tightened ALL of the strings so tight as to cause the bridge to literally snap off the body of the guitar. I was so mad. My parents said they would get it fixed for me, but never did. Like I said, I lost interest after a while. Freshman girls, soon to be sophomores, have more important things to do.
theSkwirl

Sep 18 @ 5:45PM  
You had a great mom though.. even though your playing was horrendous, she stuck with you and probably would have encouraged you even further had you decided you liked playing.

Heh... encouragement is good.. honest criticism .. to me.. is better.. if I stank tell me.
Wordsofwit

Sep 18 @ 6:10PM  
she stuck with you and probably would have encouraged you even further


My late sainted mother, visualize Edith Bunker, would rarely tell you what she really thought. Her mode was always a positive spin. But if you pissed her off, once motivated, the truth would come out! That got to be more common as we got older :)
Sunshine79

Sep 18 @ 9:59PM  
Oh, lordy......I remember trying to play the trumpet. My dog hated it. My mother hated it. I sucked at it. I gave up quickly.
DarkKnightWalking

Sep 19 @ 1:27PM  
Thanx for sharing. A green cookie for yer hurt feelers....

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Stinkle Stinkle Little Star- Tommy