Before I discuss my intended subject, I feel that I need to address this:
Yesterday, someone found my blog with the search term “stories about sisters smelling each others farts.” I wasn’t sure what I’ve written that would cause my blog to appear in those results. So, I did what anyone would do, and searched for it myself. My blog didn’t appear on the first results page and I felt too creepy to look on the second page, so I just closed the tab and decided that someone was searching really deep for those fart smellers of sisterly love.
Half of you are searching for it right now, I bet. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
I probably just lost 25 of my subscribers.
My original reason for posting today, though, is to discuss my love for singing. I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember, but mostly I sing alone. Before I started driving, it was difficult to sing alone and there were multiple times when I was caught. Usually, the person who caught me singing is my younger sister and she would always burst out laughing because I was typically belting out a particularly embarrassing guilty pleasure type of song. It was always a pretty mortifying experience. It usually went something like this:
The year is 1999. My 13 year old self is locked in my room with my boom box. My sister is down the street with a friend and my mom is at
work an Al-Anon meeting. “Vision of Love” by Mariah Carey is blaring from the cheap speakers. I’m belting out the high note with sappy vibrato and my hands outstretched….
The door bursts open and Sister falls into the room, cackling and clutching her stomach. My friend from down the street is with her, also giggling. Gasping for breath, they tell me they’d been listening outside the door for the past few minutes.
“Shut up!” she says to me. “No one wants to hear you sing!”
My first car brought with it a place where no one would discover my singing sessions. Unfortunately, my first car also had really junky speakers. I used to crank up my Evanescence CDs so the music’s volume would match the volume of my voice. Within a few months, I had blown out one of the rear speakers. Husband (who was Boyfriend at the time) replaced my speakers for me, though the speakers were probably worth more than the entire car. I think you can guess what happened to the new speakers.
After a few years, that car drove its last mile and I got a new car. It had a 6-CD changer in the trunk, so I had variety in my solo karaoke repertoire! That car didn’t last long, though, and neither did the next. I currently have a car with a fairly nice factory sound system. There’s a subwoofer in the trunk and it certainly has great sound quality. My in-car concerts have never been better.
Anyway, the point I’m trying to make in a long-winded and round-about way is even though I’m a music teacher (as discussed in my most popular post), I get very nervous about singing in front of people. The better I know the person and the more intimate the setting, the more scared I get. More than once, Husband has asked me to sing for him and I vehemently refuse. To this day, I have never sung for him by myself. It’s a completely irrational fear because the people I’m most afraid to sing for are the people I know are the least likely to judge me or put me down.
I have no problem singing for large crowds. In high school, I played Laurey in Oklahoma and naturally, I did a lot of solo singing during rehearsals and for crowds of about 500 people during the performances. During college, my friends and I loved to go to Karaoke Night on Mondays. On occasion, I would win tanning gift certificates, which I would give to my friend who wished to submit herself to cancerous rays. I even sang for my school a couple years ago during the talent show with another teacher.
So, how about you? Do you sing in the car? In front of other people?
Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone. My mother is always wonderful material for my blog, so you can expect a hilarious recap of my turkey day later this week.
When I was about eight years old, I started piano lessons. I really have no idea why I started taking them. There isn’t a conversation in which I remember discussing this with my mom. Honestly, my first memories of piano lessons are of simply being in a room the size of a closet with a 30-something prude who would put check marks and smiley faces next to the exercises that I had mastered in the book.
I still shudder at the thought of those check marks.
Every week, she would assign something as homework for the next lesson, the same way I do now with my band students. For some reason, that check mark was really intimidating to my third grade brain. It was as if she were standing behind me as I practiced, scolding me for bad hand position and missing accidentals.
My main memory of piano lessons actually has nothing to do with the piano. The adult in me says that my audience might not find it as funny as I do, but the child in me says keep typing, so here I go. My family was always very open in our home. We never felt the need to stifle our enjoyment of potty humor and thus, we never apologized for rude noises at home. During one particular lesson, my worst nightmare came true. It turns out that a piano bench, with its flat wood structure and hollow middle for storing music, is a wonderful amplifier for noise. Yes, I farted during a piano lesson.
My teacher looked as shocked as I felt. I’m sure she thought about ignoring it for my sake, but instead she asked, “What do you say?”
I didn’t know.
Normally at home, the response would simply have been to laugh. Now I realized, all too late, that there was some sort of protocol in civilized society for this situation, and I had never been taught.
“I’m sorry?” The look on my teacher’s face indicated I had guessed the wrong response.
“Say excuse me.” And I did.
Anyway, I digress. The point of this little foray into my two year stint in piano lessons is that I never really learned to play the piano. Our piano ended up being repossessed and I had to stop lessons. My piano lessons were a great primer for the instrument I ended up playing for life, which is the flute. Don’t ask me why I chose the flute. I’m pretty sure that I only chose it because it didn’t require reeds and I was trying to save my mom money. (Our family’s financial situation was bleak, to put it mildly.)
So here I am, 16 years later, and it has occurred to me that I should have learned a cooler instrument. I mean, seriously, how often is the flute featured in popular music?
Anyone says Jethro Tull, I’ll cut you. My mom bought me a couple CDs when I was in middle school and I couldn’t stomach it. Now, the Marshall Tucker Band is a whole different story. Badass.
Overall, you never hear the flute used in a cool way. Piano, though, is used all the time. It’s versatile. It’s…just cool.
Allow me to cite some examples of why I probably should have stuck with the piano lessons.
First of all, Matt Bellamy of Muse’s Rachmaninov-inspired piano intro to “Space Dementia”:
Regina Spektor’s ballad “Samson”:
Amy Lee of Evanescence begins gently, but turns “Your Star” into a collage of crunching guitar and arpeggiated piano:
One of the greatest piano rockers needs no introduction for “Crocodile Rock”:
Ben Folds is one of my inspirations for improving my piano skills. Here’s “Zac and Sara”:
And yes, it’s cliche, but I have to include the original piano rocker, Ludvig van Beethoven. “Moonlight Sonata” is one of the pieces that inspired me to teach music.
Had I not stopped piano lessons about 17 years ago, I could have been pretty good by now. And much cooler. I guess I need to start practicing again.
Just don’t expect to see any check marks on my music any time soon.