Can’t Fool Me

(scene opens in cluttered parlor)

Beta: (warbling scales on baritone)
Me: (not looking up from embroidery frame) That second to last note is wrong.
Beta: (hotly) No its not.
Me: It is. Play it again.
Beta: (warbles, second to last note wrong) I didn’t hear anything wrong.
Me: What valve are you pushing? (looks up) Try pushing the middle one.
Beta: (plays scale through three times, none keeping the same octave all the way through)
Me: I’m waiting.
Beta: (wails) Mom! I’m playing it right! The teacher told me this is the fingering! Its just how my baritone plays!
Me: (sighs, gets up from couch, pulls up fingering chart for Bass Clef on laptop) Oh look. That’s the note you’re trying to play? (points to note) Looks like it’s middle valve.
Beta: (sullen, plays scale, all notes correct, stares at mother)
Me: Seriously. “This is just how my baritone plays?” You actually thought I’d fall for that? Remember this next time I’m not taking you seriously.
Beta: (goes back to playing scales with less warble)

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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.

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)