That Time We Quit Music Lessons

I decided to quit music class, the moment I found myself skipping a circle around a teeming mass of crying babies, singing, “Tralalala.”

My child was the only one clapping and singing. The others? Well, two kids were crying, two were clinging to their mothers and three were waddling over to the door, trying to make a break for it. Smart kids.

“Everybody grab a scarf, we’re going to make a Maypole with them!” The teacher trilled.

The hell I am. I looked down at Ellis, she was sitting smugly in the middle of the room, reaching for a scarf as if this medieval baby worship cult was better than all the Elmo and the M&Ms in the world. Fine, I guess I am. 

But the moment the pole came out and the lalalas commenced, part of me was with the slightly gummy 16-month-old, banging on the door.

My mom is a talented musician  She sings. She plays piano and guitar. She used to play the violin and so much of my childhood was spent standing around the piano singing hymns. My mom had 8 children and she took us to the symphony, we listened to classical music, she taught us how to read music the moment we could read a book, she had us singing Gilbert and Sullivan right out of the womb. So,  when her 8-kid brood failed to turn into the Von Trap family singers, I think part of her died a little. The most talented of the bunch hated appearing on stage. The one most excited for the spotlight? Well, I’m the worst singer of them all. We did a couple church talent shows. But sadly, by time we were old enough to be taught to sing in unison, we’d already leaned to coup d’tat. Inciting riots is what we kids do best.

I saw a family band at the state fair, with two really enthusiastic kids on maracas and a fiddle, a couple of happy parents holding the mic and guitar, and some really pissed looking tweens on the drum and the bass. I wanted to take them aside and say, “You have the power to make everyone’s life a living hell until they take those drumsticks out of your hands! Viva la revolution!”

But Ellis was too busy throwing herself on the stage begging them to adopt her.

Ellis loves music. Even when she was only a few weeks old we could calm her down with music. At 6 months, when she was getting teeth, Bob Marley was the only way we could calm her down.  So, my mom signed us up for music lessons. Good music lessons. The kind with the vaguely Hitler Youthy name, where the teachers are intense and there is homework and I’m not entirely convinced it’s not some sort of cult training ground. Except not one of those awesome cults with guns and Kool-aid, more like one of those cults where we all dance with scarves, feel things and make our own peanut butter.

Last year, I got called out for not doing the homework with Ellis. “Hey,” I said. “I’m not one of those helicopter parents. She can do her own work.”

The teacher didn’t laugh. We switched classes a few sessions later. We managed to complete four sessions of these classes. Our attendance was only fueled by how much Ellis loved crawling into that room and “experiencing the music” as the teacher called it. My only relief valve was listening to Nicki Minaj on the way over.

But I draw the line at scarf-circle-baby-sacrifice-dancing. It’s not so much of a moral thing as it is a what-the-nutballs-is-this? Kind of thing. And I mean, I get it. Kids need their multi-sensory experiences, but there are limits. We didn’t evolve from Monkey’s so we could sing tralalala and wave scarves around our terrified children. The Monkeys are very disappointed in us and would prefer it if we’d just limit our multi-sensory learning experiences to eating M&M while we shake our booties to some Chris Brown, also some whiskey would be nice.


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