Did Mozart always play like… well, Mozart? Sure, he was a child prodigy and all, but before he started composing music at age five, were there any moments at say, age three when he played off-key or in the wrong scale?
I mean, how did his parents know that young Wolfgang had a brilliant (but sadly shortlived) musical journey ahead of him? Were there signs of genius before the actual genius hit? How did they know not to throw in the towel and say ‘Hey! Music isn’t for everyone. Maybe you should just stick to playing with Thomas der Panzermotor!’. Or whatever early predecessor of Thomas the Tank Engine was popular in the 18th century.
I ask because both my children play instruments. The older one has been banging away at the piano for over two years while we recently capitulated to the younger ones demands that we not stand in the way of his obvious guitar-playing glory.
Now, I’m not one of those parents that demand their children win grand prizes. I’m not saying become a YouTube sensation. I’m not that parent because I don’t really have what it takes as a parent to make my kids those kids. In fact, I am saying the opposite. I’m saying, please don’t pick up your guitar after Sunday lunch and insist we all guess what song you’re playing.
This tentative offering is met with scorn.
‘It’s Imagine Dragons. Ok. How about this?’
‘Ummm… Imagine Dragons?’
‘It’s Ed Sheeran.’
‘I think you’re playing it in the wrong scale.’
‘No. This is how you play it. You don’t know anything.’
‘Can I go to sleep then?’
‘No. Not until you get it right.’
My older son has decided he is too talented to play the music composed by others, and has decided to only play his own compositions. We are asked to listen to three line songs imaginatively called ‘Song 1’, ‘Song 2’ and ‘High to Low’. We are then invited to listen to their variations in modes called ‘UFO landing’ and ‘Barking Dogs.’
‘How is it? Awesome right?’
‘I’ll take your word for it.’
Who knows, 250 years from now ‘High to Low’ in Barking Dog could be the song every one sings at night to put their babies to sleep.
Sometimes they get together to ‘jam’. An event that makes the dog bark loudly at them.
‘Look! Even Woody likes the music. Sing with us Woody, sing!’
The dog looks mildly traumatised.
‘How about we take a break, kids? Do something else?’
‘You’re the one who said we need to practice to become good at something.’
Me and my big mouth.
I’m off to get some noise cancellation head phones for me and Woody.
Call me when you’re famous, kids, so that I can take all the credit.