I know that I’m writing this blog for the EARLY Childhood Movement and Music Association, but ten or fifteen years after that toddler is sitting on your lap singing “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” he may be holding his first rock band rehearsal in your basement. Here’s my report, live, on-location:
Last week, my son’s homeroom teacher asked him to get a few kids together to play at a creative writing event he was hosting at the school. First task: find a name for the band.
These days, you can find out in seconds on the internet whether the brilliant name you just came up for your band has been taken. “Serious Delirium?” Taken. “I Wrestled a Bear Once?” Taken.
It’s Saturday morning. The bass player and drummer trail in, and traipse downstairs to begin their bonding ritual. In a few minutes, the floor is shaking.
I go down, bang on the door. “Do you have your earplugs in?” I shout. They smile and gesture at the orange peanuts protruding from their ears. I look at the drummer.
“We can’t help it, Derek can’t play soft,” my son explains.
“It’s a good skill to have,” I point out.
I’m not a stage mom. My son just sings on all my children’s albums because I needed cheap convenient talent. Now that his voice has changed, I’ve switched him over to playing cello when I need someone to play bass lines. He did get his picture in the local paper after our last gig; his basketball coach cut it out and gave it to him. I was glad - he needed to miss a practice to play that concert, and those sports guys need hard evidence.
But I seem to be turning into a rehearsal mom. As I am cooking the most fat-intensive lunch I can think of to fill three adolescent male stomachs, I wince. What the drummer is playing bears absolutely no relation to the beat.
I have a pretty good relationship with my kid, so I risk going down to the basement again. “Can I make an observation?” My son just looks at me. His expression is a mixture of amusement and resignation, so I plough ahead. “Your tempo is somewhere inbetween what they are playing and twice as fast,” I say to poor Derek, who has met me for the first time today and probably hopes that all future rehearsals will be at someone else’s house. “I’d suggest going for the slower beat.” I gesture to the guitar and bass to start, and Derek starts in. As I go up the stairs, I am relieved to hear that their beats are at least in the same ballpark.
“What does ampersand mean?” my son asked me a couple of days ago. “It’s that little symbol that means and,” I say. “What a great name for a band! You could have T-shirts with just that mysterious symbol! You could have a graphic of an amp sitting out on a beach . . . .” Taken. All the good names are taken.
I make it to the top of the stairs, and the energetic first variation of “Canon Rock” begins. The drummer sounds as if there’s a dog chasing him, and the bass and guitar are not far behind. I turn around and go back down.
“It’s something everybody does, “ I say helpfully (I hope) to these amazingly tolerant boys. “You get excited when the music gets more exciting, and you want to play faster. But listen to Ringo Starr on those Beatles albums – the beat is totally solid. That’s what really makes the music exciting; that’s professional.”
“I’ll turn on the metronome,” says my son. I can hardly believe my ears. I could die right now and go straight to music teacher mom heaven.
Oh – and he finally found a name for the band that didn’t show up "taken" on the internet.
ECMMA: Early Childhood Music and Movement Association
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