Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Play the Guitar on the MTV

I'm a musical person.  My family is musical - it's not as if I had a choice.  By the age of 8, I was a regular on the platform at my church, singing away in my absurdly loud soprano, accompanied by Mom on the piano, my brother on guitar and tenor...and of course, Daddy sang bass.   I started piano lessons as soon as I could read - and I started playing guitar last year.  It's as much a part of my life as breathing.

I've been waiting with breathless anticipation to find out what kind of musical talents would spring forth from my progeny, and it seems that they will be both be musical in their own ways.  (If they aren't we'll just blame Dr. SmartyPants for that.)  Junebug can't help but move and sing and play air guitar and twist and shout whenever his favorite JoBro songs or HSM songs come on the iPod playlist.  D would rather act like he's playing guitar or drums - but rarely dances or sings.  He loves to listen, though - just soaks music UP.

So - to help their dreams of being rock stars along, they started taking guitar lessons a few months ago.  Classical guitar.  So they can be Classic Rock Stars.  It's the most wonderful thing EVER.  I love it.  Junebug sticks his tongue out of the side of his mouth and turns his hand all wonderful ways and tries so hard.  D sits up with the nicest posture and perfect hand positions, but makes the most awful faces when he misses a note.  It's been interesting to watch them deal with the successes and failures that come along with learning a new instrument.  It really brings out the personality.

D, who can be so reluctant to try new things, jumps into a new song with reckless abandon.  He oozes confidence.  He reeks of skill.  When he misses a note - he makes that strange face and just keeps going.  His tempo is rock-steady.  He also has a hard time understanding that the way he is doing it is not always the right way.  Stubborn to the core.

D-Man Jamz

Junebug, who always seems so full of confidence, occasionally cowers at the thought of  a new song.  He chooses not to try, rather than risking failure.  When he misses a note - he goes back and starts all the way over at the beginning of the song.  He can't STAND to not be perfect.  So he's not perfect a lot and he tends to get frustrated and want to quit.  He doesn't like to play with anyone's tempo except the one that is in his head.  He is, in short, just like me.  But cuter.

Junebug Jamz

Why is one kid so okay with an occasional bobble or missed note, while the other lies down and cries?  I don't know.  They are as different as night is from day, as dark is from light, as I am from my sister.  

Over the years, my own brand of perfectionism has calmed down a little.  More than a little, maybe.  I still hate to fail, of course, but I don't get quite so frustrated with myself.  I try things more often and I am really okay if I'm just bad at it.  I have found the way to laugh at myself when I screw something up.  

This is, actually, a fairly recent development, and it was brought to me in the saving grace of music.  See - Dr. SmartyPants and I were involved with a church - a start-up, inner-city church, and the only person with any musical skill was...Me.  Now - singing?  No problem.  I've been doing that forever.  BUT.  We needed accompaniment.  Specifically - piano.

So - I dusted off my keyboard and started practicing.  Like a whole week.  And then I got up in front of about 50 people and played.


And I sang.


And you know what?  Nobody came up to me afterwards and said - "Yo - Diahn - what was up with THAT?"  No - they just sang along and covered up the mess I was making with the keys and somehow it made a joyful noise.

And after awhile...I got better.  And then I got even better and could fool people into believing that I knew what I was doing.

And then I bought a guitar and started all over again.  And somehow in all that, I realized that you should do what you do because it brings you joy and fills you up - not because you can show everyone how perfect you are.  Perfect is boring.

I don't want to be boring.