Personal Story: Music Lessons

This is the first in an occasional series of personal stories that I’ll be posting here. There are a lot of storytellers out there who specialise in personal stories, and it is an area I’m interested in looking at. I’ll put up stories here that I think may interest people. Let me know what you think…

I avoided music lessons as much as I could, I suspect the music teachers were quite glad about this. There were a few unavoidable times in School, of course, including one memorable term where they tried to make us think Mozart was cool by making us sing drippy songs to the sound of a harpsichord. I disliked Mozart for years…

The other unavoidable music hazard in our school was on rainy days. The teachers were in a flurry to stop us from pulling limbs off each other with boredom during the lunch hour, (This is North West England, you’d think they’d have come up with a plan for rain) and we’d be herded into the big assembly hall for a ‘sing-along’, something almost universally dreaded (Seriously, you don’t need corporal punishment: just threaten eight year old boys with having to sing with girls for an hour, we’ll do anything…)

We’d troop in and adopt various interpretations of ‘sitting’ while Enthusiastic Teacher handed out instruments from the expensive Glockenspiel (only for the trusted few) down to the triangles and battered castanets with saggy elastic. Those of us too slow or not trusted even with these relatively unbreakable instruments, had to Clap When Instructed.

Enthusiastic Teacher would bang out a chord on the piano and we would all make an approximate noise, whereupon her head would appear over the piano, the better to see those of us trying to hide. She would glare at us, and bang the piano again. All kinds of chord, ranging from Enthusiastic Harmony to Bored Moans would ensue.

Satisfied that we were enjoying ourselves whether we liked it or not, the teacher would begin playing. This was the cue for a cacophony of sound to erupt while various new and interesting rhythms were tried on various old and battered instruments and the glockenspiel degenerated into negotiations that would put the Middle East in the shade.(“I’ll let you play this song, Lucy, if I get invited to your party in March”).

None of this was important to Enthusiastic Teacher though: as the song continued, she would regularly shoot up from behind the piano shouting “I want everybody singing, including the boys hiding behind the piano! I can see you! Sit up straight! And clap! Now! and Now! and Now! Sing up…”

I have never experienced longer lunch breaks…

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