10/24/2006

Bang Shang A Lang

Of my innumerable talents, playing an instrument credibly is not one of them.

Learning the toy xylophone may have been my crowning achievement as a little boy; oh how I’d tap out the simple colour coded nursery rhymes in the booklet never once realizing I might branch out on my own with original compositions.

When I became proficient at the two guitar chords required to strum my way to prominence in the junior choir at Church, I thought I’d made it. How long though can you play and sing Jesus Is Lord with feeling? Those were the words to the whole song. Repeat over and over and over while awkwardly alternating chords until your head spins.

Once in a while, being an open minded young man, I’d go all interfaith with my musical attempts. I played the Jew’s harp for a while. I know what you’re thinking, how could something you have to play with your hands and your mouth not be the sexiest instrument on the planet? Trust me.

Our school had choral competitions every year and the music teacher in her selection process would have us traipse up to her at the piano and sing a few bars. She’d yay or nay us and we were in or out. Listening for her was a common sense approach. When I was the only boy out of the whole Grade 6 class chosen to sing in the choir, I showed little common sense and bowed out in embarrassment.

We all had to play the recorder in school which may stand as one of the most ear damaging instruments in the history of junior band. Could they not just have told us Don’t blow so hard! Learning to play The Friendly Giant theme tune was cool though. Rest in peace Friendly!

A nun tried to teach me piano once but I lasted only one lesson because I knew I wasn’t yet ready to think with both of my hands. A friend of mine has offered to teach me to play now but when she talks about scales and drills, all I can think of is dentistry.

The big bass drum was a pretty sweet assignment in junior high music class and it was easy to hit your mark with that one. The teacher was cool too because he talked to us like maybe we were budding people instead of the mutants we were and about things like Saturday Night Live and his ponytail. And then they canned the music program.

My entire musical education summed up in a few short paragraphs. Where did it all go wrong?

I know Pink Fluffy Slippers is a cellist and that Coaster Punchman can sing and play piano. If everyone else joined in, what would it sound like?




30 comments:

Anonymous said...

You don't EVEN want me humming! People pay me not to sing.

mellowlee said...

I love that you know the theme to The Friendly Giant :)

Beth said...

I couldn't get past "Mary Had a Little Lamb" on the recorder, thus losing out the opportunity to become Chrissie Hynde. I'm still bitter.

Yasamin said...

i can play the skin flute.... >:)~

gizmorox said...

I played the clarinet from 4th to 6th grade but I was rubbish at it. I'm not sure I could get it to make any sounds now.

I can sing ok, that's about all I've got. Comes in pretty handy when I'm driving, but not for much else.

Chancelucky said...

Dale,
there are lots of ways to learn to play musical instruments these days that let you learn in your own way.

About 15 years ago, I started fooling with synthesizers and a midi connector. althought it's not something I still do, it was really interesting to make music via a sequencing program that sounded vaguely competent (there are limits) without having the techincal ability to play a conventional instrument well at all.

The sequencer let me edit the various lines so they were actually playing in tune, in rhythm ( a little stiffer than human musicians), and together.
At the time, the weapon of choice was the Korg M1, but there are plenty of other options these days if you want to go there. It's clear that you love listening to music.
I did find that my listening appreciation was enhanced by my attempting to "make" music.

Peter said...

I sing and play guitar for money and laughs. Come have a listen:

www.myspace.com/petevelcro

If I had a real CD to pimp I would.

chelene said...

I played the organ as a child, the sax in junior high and when properly lubricated I can belt out a tune.

Grant Miller said...

Why do you have to call it a Jew's Harp?

You anti-semantite.

blog Portland said...

I have no musical talent whatsoever.

My talent is easily spotting rhetoric that is rife with sexual innuendos, like Chelene's comment above; i.e., organ, sax, lubricated, and junior high.

Creepy said...

"Jew's harp?" Why is that, is it cheap?

I play bass guitar. And can play the theme to 'The Muppet Show' on sax.

Coaster Punchman said...

Blog Portland is a perv. We like that at CPW.

Thanks for the props. We have plans for some musically related postings in the near future.

CP

Saviour Onassis said...

I taught myself how NOT to play all the instruments used to create my music.

I do it for the kids, man...

Shameless plug: saviour onassis

And Dale, the way you blog is music to my ears.

Dale said...

Now I absolutely want to hear you hum and sing Old Lady.

I'll call Rusty and we'll do it together Lee. Not that way. You know what I mean.

Is that all she had to do to get a record deal Beth? You was robbed.

Ah Yas, allow me to sing -- It had to be you...

You need to sing Giz to keep the thoughts of everyone trying to kill you while you're driving at bay. Clarinet huh? You may be called up to the blog majors so practice.

But was it fun Chancelucky? And can I dance to it? If so, that would be a first. I can't dance.

Hey Peter, I think you should call your CD Dolphins Are Stupid. I'll call you.

There are a lot of people that want to be your instrument right now Chelene.

It is what it is Grant Miller. Some of my best friends are black. What? What? Feels like there's an Echo in here.

You managed to play the people at your garbage sale though didn't you BP?

Not sure why exactly Creepy but if you care to find out, here's the website that'll tell you.

BP may well be CP. And you're welcome. I look forward to hearing more of your musical exploits and offerings to the world.

You're the deaf guy right Saviour?
Sorry, the shameless deaf guy.

PinkFluffySlippers said...

It would've been cool to throw some jew's harp into that Jesus is lord number. Jesus is lord, boing boing boing, jesus is lord, boing boing boing, jesus is lord, ...

And thanks for calling me a cellist. I still generally preface that with the word 'aspiring'.

Ben Heller said...

Well I can play "Jesus Is Lord" on the Triangle.

Care to form a duo Dale ? The new Hall & Oates or Simon & Carbunkle.

X. Dell said...

Actually, it's never too late to learn. I've taught kids and adults how to play piano. It surprises me that adults actually learn faster, but have less patience than kids. Kids think it's cool if they cn play chopsticks. Adults expect to be Van Cliburn after a semester.

Dale said...

Oh I don't know how it would have gone over PinkFluffySlippers had I just whipped it out and started playing with it.

You're a cellist.

If you approach the triangle like you approach your websites, podcasts and love of music, I'll be your Carbunkle Ben. Actually, that's a good band name too.

A semester X. Dell? Why do I have to wait that long? And thanks for making me look up Van Cliburn, you're such a teacher!

Anonymous said...

My mother always told me I would regret quitting piano. She was almost right. I regret quitting music lessons, but someone should've given me a guitar. What I do regret is that I am left to be a music "appreciater" and not a musician.

Ben Heller said...

I've been thinking about our stage names.

Ben Novuk and Dale Goode

better known as....(drums roll)....

Novuk 'n Goode



(think about it)

justacoolcat said...

I played the drums most of my life and sang in several choirs and bands. I also dabble with piano,trumpet, sax, and guitar.

The Wifey is an accomplished viola player, much better than I on the piano, and sings in a choir.

Our house is littered with instruments.

Christopher said...

What the fuck is a Jew's Harp? It looks (and sounds) like some form of mediecal contraception.

Dale said...

I know just what you mean Anonymous Appreciater. I think that's how air guitaring started.

Haha, and if we both end up fat on the royalties from our so bad it's good music Ben, we could rename ourselves after your site and go by 300 Pound Treasures.

So you're lousy with music Coolcat? Har har. Sounds great. Maybe if I just fill the house with instruments, they will come?

Open wide Christopher. Read if you dare.

Holly said...

Your musical career sounds a lot like mine, Dale, except that I had YEARS of piano lessons, due to the fact that my mother taught them. God, the shame, despair and loathing that returns to me as I think of sitting on a piano bench, "practicing" scales that were supposed to help my fingering. But there weren't nothing could be done for my ear.... I also played the clarinet in elementary school and the bassoon in high school, if sitting miserably in the midst of a bunch of pimply children and hoping that I'd manage to hit the same note as everyone else at least 25% of the time counts as playing.

The world would have been a better place if my mother had been willing to admit that I simply had no musical talent whatsoever, and let me do other stuff instead. Like, I don't know, stare blankly at a wall. Or poke needles in my little brother. Or drive monster trucks. ANYTHING would have been preferable.

Anonymous said...

One time, in 5th grade? My band teacher told me to "pretend" I was playing my clarinet when the school band gave a christmas concert. My Mom told me I was great.

Dale said...

That's a great description of high school band misery Holly. You'd have the nicest knitted things hanging from your monster truck mirrors I'll bet, haha.

Nothing like treasured memories of self esteem battering moments are there Bluez? Yikes.

Anonymous said...

I have this alto, LOUD voice, and other kids used to make fun of me when I would sing. So I learned not to sing very loudly.

Dale said...

I hope you unlearned the not singing loudly or at least started a new group called Alto-Anon.

Angela said...

I can play the trouser flute.
It makes an "O" sound.

(snicker, snicker)

Dale said...

Funny you should snicker Angela, that's hot!