Do you even music?

(scene opens in the dining room)

Me: Okay, Beta, welcome to Tiger Mom Summer school. Time to practice scales! Remember, when you see these two signatures these two notes (points them out, clearly marked as #) are always sharp.
Beta: (slumped in chair, cradling baritone horn) How do you play a sharp?
Me: (looking scale sheet) It has the fingerings right there.
Beta: I don’t think I’ve ever played a sharp.
Me: (deep breathing) You’ve been in band two years. How have you not played a sharp?
Beta: (turning red, tears starting) I don’t know!
Me: Clearly your band teacher has not been putting you through your paces and I have failed you as Nightmare Tiger Mom. We’ll begin with your first scale and it looks like I’m learning Bass Clef with you.
Beta: (begins to weep, plays soggy scale, waits for death)
Me: (finds center, remains calm) It might be an embouchure problem. You’ll have to do lip-ups. Every day you’ll need to lay face down and pick yourself up with only your lips.
Beta: (laughs through his tears)
Me: Okay. Good. Now, again.

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This again?

(scene opens in cluttered parlor)

Alpha: (sawing his way through Dona Nobis Pacem)
Me: No, you need to hold that note longer.
Alpha: (scowls, saws through it again)
Me: What’s the key signature?
Alpha: One sharp. That’s F#?
Me: Yes. Sounds like you’re playing all of them sharp.
Alpha: No I’m not! You don’t know how this song goes!
Me: Seriously. (Sings Dona Nobis Pacem perfect Catholic School acapella) Why do you think you’re ever going to win a music fight with me? I’m not even anywhere near the moderately competent musician my school ever released into the wild.
Alpha: (says nothing, goes back to sawing, only half the notes sharp)

Not a Rickroll

(scene opens at dinner table)

Beta: My music teacher told me that I needed to watch 4:33.
Me: (processing) What?
Beta: 4:33. Both he and the orchestra teacher were laughing about it. It’s a music video.
Me: Oh! Yes. (starts laughing) Of course we can watch it. (calls up the orchestral version of John Cage’s 4’33)

(minute goes by)

Gamma: When are they going to start playing?
Beta: For real. They’re just sitting there.

(second minute goes by)

Beta: I don’t get it. Why is this funny?
Gamma: They’re not playing.

(third minute goes by)

Gamma: This is boring! Where’s the music?!
Beta: (extreme suffering) I don’t get it! Tell me why this is so funny!
Me: (calls up the sheet music for 4’33)
Beta: (incredulous) Rests. The whole thing is rests. Why the hell would anyone write a piece of just rests!? And why wouldn’t anyone think that’s funny?
Me: (starts giggling)

The Music Speaks to Them

(scene opens in chaotic mudroom)

Me: Ohmigod, its going to be 50 today (starts stripping Gamma of arctic layers)
Alpha: Maaaam!
Me: (sighs) What?
Alpha: Beta turned the song into a gothic rock song!
Me: What? What song?
Beta: No I didn’t!
Alpha: He did!
Me: (exasperated) Beta, what song?
Beta: (summoning a voice from the gravel pit) Mary had a little Lamb! She cooked it until it was no more!
Me: Oh, that’s not gothic rock. Might be a little more Viking Death Metal. And that’s okay.
Alpha: (disappointed)
Beta: (preens)

Bell Curves

(scene opens in mini-van on ride home, math & physics discussion in progress)

Me: And that’s why I’m glad you decided you wanted to go to band camp. Music, language, and math all use the same part of the brain.
Beta: So I guess this means I’m really smart.
Me: (smirk) Kinda.
Beta: (offended) Kinda?!
Me: Intelligence isn’t a black/white issue of you’re either dumb or smart but more of a sliding scale. I think I might be moderately educated, but someone like Stephen Hawking probably thinks I’m a moron.
Beta: (dawning awareness) So you’re smarter than some people and some people are smarter than you! So Gamma is smarter than Delta, I’m smarter than Gamma, Alpha is smarter than me, you’re smarter than Alpha and dad is smarter than you!
Me: (narrow side eye)
Beta: Uh, reverse that?
Me: (stern lecture voice) Okay, now we talk about how it isn’t “age brings wisdom”, despite the fact I’m older that your father, but age brings the opportunity for more experience and experience brings wisdom.

Musical Inspiration

(scene opens in cluttered kitchen, lunch in progress, Irish folk played offscreen)

Alpha: This music reminds me of something.
Me: (cutting tomatoes) Oh yeah?
Alpha: Yeah. Ornica of Time. Legend of Zelda.
Me: (processes that for a moment) It’s pronounced ocarina. Ocarina of Time.
Alpha: (incredulous) Really?! You played Legend of Zelda?!
Me: No, I played an ocarina.
Alpha: Those really exist!?

Don’t Be That Guy

(scene opens in sewing room sweatshop, violin practice off screen)

Alpha: How was that? Am I all done?
Me: (puts down bodice) I think you could play a little bit longer, but it sounds good. I have to talk to you about something.
Alpha: (approaches hesitantly)
Me: Have you talked to Girlfriend recently?
Alpha: (wary brave face) Yeah. A couple of times.
Me: (tactfully lets it pass) We need to discuss the “Care and Feeding of the Girlfriend”. They’re not like houseplants where you talk to them once a month and everything is fine. Put your violin away then go upstairs and call her. You don’t have to plan anything, we’re probably busy this weekend, maybe you can meet at the park on Monday, but just tell her “Hey, thinking of you, wanted to see how things were going over your summer.”
Alpha: (tension ratchets down) You think so? Okay! (volin snaps into place, pounding upstairs offscreen)
Me: (licks finger, hash marks the air for a win)

Musical Mishaps

(scene opens in toy strewn parlor, summer school work in progress)

Me: Okay, twenty minutes of baritone. Let’s do some scale work.
Beta: I only know four notes.
Me: (pause for mini-stroke) A year of band and you only know four notes? (flips through book, finds scale) Here – start at G and play the octave.
Beta: (obligatory suffering, starts playing)
Me: (listens to the audio equivalent of a bucket of legos dumped out) What the hell was that?
Beta: (defensively) I’m playing the scale.
Me: (takes baritone, runs the scale) The notes go in order, lowest tone to highest then you go back down. Not a grab bag of sounds. What day were you not paying attention where you missed this part of music theory? How is the sound of it not audible common sense?
Beta: (cue more suffering)

Musical interludes

(scene opens in crowded mini-van, poppy music on the radio, when obligatory rap solo kicks in)
Husband: (listens for a moment, decides lyrics bending in questionable suggestive topics, changes station)
Gamma: (outraged) Why did you change the station, I was listening!
Husband: It didn’t speak to my soul.
Gamma: You don’t have a soul. The soul-eater doesn’t have a soul!
Me: She has a point.
Husband: (fist bumps daughter)

Dancing

Gamma: Turn on music so I can dance!
Me: (silently seethes, coffee time is quiet time) Okay.
(Pandora pulls up the Goth Station)
Beta: What song is this?
Me: It’s called “Kiss” it’s one of my favorites to dance to.
Beta: This isn’t dance music!
Me: You’d be surprised.

Pure poetry

(scene opens with mom brushing daughter’s long wet hair)
Husband: Tell mommy how much you love daddy.
Gamma: (holds up pinched fingers)
Husband: Now show mommy how much you love her.
Gamma: (throws arms open wide)
Me: Sorry Husband.
Gamma: Mom, you win at love.
Me: Yes, some call me the gangster of love.
Gamma: (with heavy sarcasm) Really? You said that?

Wisdom of the 80’s: Parental style

(scene opens with Team Middle Children out of control)
Me: (finishes buckling Delta into his seat, gets behind the wheel) Would you like to tell me what that’s all about?
Beta: (outraged) Gamma kept knocking on the window at me even though I told her to stop! Like she was doing it just to make me upset!
Gamma: (mocking laughter)
Me: She probably was. In life, there will always be people who will do things for the sole purpose of annoying the crap out of you. The only way to win is not to play.
Beta: (engages Epic Pout(tm))
Me: (turns on the Loop really loud and cruises the highway)