Wednesday 6 March 2013

Musical Matters

I’ve always wanted to be able to play a musical instrument.

I started with something simple – the harmonica. All you have to do is suck and blow and suck and blow as you move the instrument left and right in your mouth. It was fun and easy. Sadly, it made the cat climb up the curtains and the dog howl whilst the rest of the family screamed at me all at once.

So I tried taking lessons at playing the guitar. We started with tuning exercises. I had to hold the strings tightly against the neck of the guitar with the left hand and pick at the strings with the right hand!

The problem was that my left hand did its job all right. But the right hand kept moving up and down frantically a few millimeters away from the strings. When the instructor suggested I move my hand a little closer somehow my fingers got all tangled up in the strings with a horrendous sound. I just could not co-ordinate both hands to do what they were supposed to. Sometimes my left hand moved up and down on the guitar neck, whilst the other hand pushed the fingers into that hole you have in the main body of the instrument.

My patient instructor suggested I use a plectrum. That’s a small triangular piece of plastic which you hold between your fingers to pick at the guitar strings.

As I tried to hit the strings with the plastic bit it flew out of my hand and hit the instructor straight in the eye. Would you believe it? It could have gone anywhere … but NOOOOO !!! In my case it went straight in his eye.

He was taken to hospital and the rest of the class blamed me for a ruined guitar lesson. I mean … why not blame the stupid plastic triangle?

I gave up the guitar and decided to self-teach myself the violin instead. No plectrums or picks … just a long stick which you move up and down over the strings and sound comes out.

I bought myself an expensive violin and decided to learn at home using a book and a CD I got from the library.

It made some good sounds I tell you. The cat still climbed at the top of the curtain and the dog hid in his kennel. The rest of the family chose to go out shopping instead!

It was then that I noticed that whilst playing the violin I had a tendency to walk up and down the room instead of standing still. At first I did not know why I was doing this; then I realized that the music I was playing had been written for the bagpipes.

So I sold my old Stradivarius at a garage sale and used the proceeds to buy a set of bagpipes and drums.

I practiced for hours in our garden sometimes marching up and down with the bagpipes, and at other times using the big drum whilst playing back a recording of my bagpipes practice sessions.

I became really good at the pipes and drums and could soon play Chopin’s piano concertos as well as a number of other famous tunes written by all the well known composers. Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Michelangelo … I could play them all. 

However I noticed that our neighbours had become a little un-friendly and somewhat uncharitable. One suggested that I play far away but I could not find the sheet music to that tune.

I tried practicing indoors but there was not enough room to march up and down. So I walked on the treadmill whilst playing the bagpipes and watching TV at the same time.

I sometimes practiced in the garden at night so as not to wake up the rest of the family.

A jovial neighbour always opened his window and shouted “Stop banging that **** drum at three in the morning!” What a laugh that was!

I could even play “Silent Night” on the big drum, you know. For some strange reason our priest refused to let me play it on the drum at the Christmas Carol Concert.

I eventually gave up on the bagpipes due to several letters received from various solicitors. They were all written in the same threatening tone of voice … including the one sent on behalf of my wife.

The thing is … I love music. Putting a piece of paper over a comb and humming quietly doesn’t sound quite the same. Does it?


  1. AH Victor! I love this post! It was my birthday on Saturday and I've just acquired a little ukulele as a present: I've always wanted one... Someone else has promised me a bodrhan, an Irish drum. Someone else noted that all I needed is to strap the drum under my arm and get a harmonica and I'm my own little one woman band! Well, I am always banging on abort something!
    I let you know how I get on. Lovely post; the walking up and down to music intended for bagpipes (I also have a penchant for bagpipes...) just creased me up. Thank yo and God bless x

    1. Happy Birthday Gigi and many Happy Returns.

      Perhpas you can Blog about your progress at playing the ukelele. How well do you play?

      I'm so glad you enjoyed this post. Thank you for writing in to let us know.

      God bless you Gigi.

  2. You make me glad I live in the US, Victor :) Thanks for the funny post!

  3. Music to my ears Victor! Everyone hears their own music...and dances to it.

  4. Hi Andie ... the neighbours have just broken our windows so they can hear my music better.

    God bless.

  5. Your mention of the comb and paper brought back many happy memories. When we were little mom would give us a comb and put a piece of toilet paper over it so we could make music. It occupied us for quite some time.

    1. I was quite good at the paper and comb. Must try it again.

      God bless you Barbara.

  6. You can play any tune with the paper and comb.

    God bless, Colleen.



God bless you.