November 19, 2009
The Daily Hell Vol. III - Bumsville
Issue 32 - The Pianio or They Say It's Your Birthday! Well Happy Birthday To Ya!
Yesterday was my niece's second birthday. When my sister-in-law was pregnant with her, we all made bets as to the actual day the baby would come. I was traveling in Southeast Asia at the time and had planned my return for around Thanksgiving time. I said the baby would wait until I was home and be born the day I got back. And I was right. So I have a very easy time remembering her birthday.
In the last year, she has ceased to be the helpless messy larvae she was, rolling about on the ground, soiling herself and become the full-fledged person she is, running about, talking, squealing, playing, rolling on the ground and yes, still soiling herself. But her personality is able to shine through a lot more, now that she is able to verbally express herself.
I have no idea what I got her last year. And it's only been a year since then! What do you get for a one year old? Maybe something to chew on- a cardboard book? I don't know. This year I got her something I know she will absolutely love, and my brother will unfortunately, almost certainly hate.
I know people project their interests and passions onto their kids and I am no better. I am a big believer in music as a means of creative expression, and for children especially, an important means of opening up parts of their mind that help them learn and understand the world in new and different ways.
Whenever Avery visits, we play music together. I make notes and she strums my guitar- fascinated by the sound she is able to make when she hits the strings. At my parents house, she takes the low keys and I take the high notes on the "pianio" as she calls it. So I bought Avery her very own pianio. A high quality, wooden, 25-key, 2-octave, Stand Up Baby-Baby Grand. Thus making me her best uncle.
"I fucking hate you," Justin said to me as he read the gift receipt that came with the package. I insisted they call me when she opened it, and outside Alligator Lounge in Williamsburg, I listened to the beautiful plunking discord of keys being mashed hundreds of miles away in New Hampshire.
Please do not misread this gesture as an uncle trying to play out childhood wishes through his niece. I know she's only two. I don't think she'll be hammering out Fats Domino riffs in a smokey blues club anytime soon. I would never encourage musical lessons for someone that young and if she doesn't want to, she shouldn't ever have to take them. Frankly I find 4-year-olds that play piano better than me a bit disturbing.
What I do encourage is a child's exploration of music as a tangible object, just as she would a book or a forest or field. She doesn't have to be good at playing the piano. She's two! She'll be terrible! That's not important at all! The important thing is the understanding of one's ability to create and communicate with this other plane of existence that is accessible through this instrument- or any instrument. It's not a conscious realization a young toddler will make, of course. It will simply come as inherent; an assumed truth etched into their minds as one of the many complex and accepted Unknown Knowns that children simply take on faith without comprehending why.
Sorry, I'm getting a bit esoteric here. Think of it like this. Just as she learned that the thing she thought was only used for eating and crying- could be manipulated in such a way as to form words and communicate spoken language, a child can learn that the things on the ends of her arms that she thought were only for grabbing- can also be used to manipulate something outside of herself, that will conjure sounds out of a little box, not words per se, but still a powerful kind of communication. Mastery within, mastery without.
I love music and it's a big part of my life. I want my niece to have the opportunity to discover music and experience the joys that it has brought me. Even if she just lets the piano collect dust while she plays with the colorful box it came in, at least I have done my best to share with her something so important to me. And maybe I can borrow the piano.
Wow, thanks so much for writing and thanks even more for reading. I'm really glad you seem to be enjoying the blog. I really do appreciate the feedback. --I did find my notebook! I went back to the place me and my bandmate ate after practice and it was there thank god. -- I think I won a free fishing trip. Awesome!-- We did come up with a band name and it was actually a result of one of Maura's suggestions. She had suggested Liquid Courage and we liked that but thought it was too much already in use, so we played around mixing the words like Liquorage or Licourage. That just looked like nonsense, but then Dan (drummer) said, "How about Liquor Ridge?" We play bluesy country, rootsy rock stuff, so it seemed appropriate. So- we are Liquor Ridge. I'll keep everyone posted on shows and maybe throw a song on here when we have a few recorded. Thanks again, all...