Thursday, June 30, 2005

Teaching Music

For years I've been trying to teach my children to play guitar. I mean for chrissakes their mother is a musician like me so surely some of our genes would be passed on. But no. To be fair Jamie sings like an Angel note perfect, he even manages to knock out a tune on the keyboards, but stick a stringed instrument in his hand he hasn't a clue. Gemma has her own guitar that she loves and hugs like it's a cuddly toy from her cot. It's absolute shite. It's never in tune. I tell her to use my old guitar that I leave at the old marital home, but she doesn't, she clings onto her old battered nyloned stringed abortion for an instrument. I can't for the life of me remember where she got it from.
Anyway tonight I experimented with the children. I took my Mandolin for them to have a go at. It's small, it's cute, it has eight strings in four pairs. Now this is the amazing thing. I showed them three chords on the mandolin. G C and D. Within ten minutes they were playing "Knocking on heavens door"*. I sat up and took notice. I showed them "When I'm dead and Gone" by Medicine Head. No problemo. OK let's go for "Copperhead Road" piece of piss. Even the fiddly bits. Wow!

* Purists among you will notice that knocking on heavens door is G D Am G D C. Well on a mandolin you can get away with playing C instead of Am if the guitar is playing Am. So they were playing GDC GDC.

So now I've got the new Mike Da Hat approach to teaching young children to play guitar. You start them on Mandolin first. For a small child it's very user friendly. Then when they've learnt the basics on Mandolin you introduce the guitar. It's got to be a winner. I've proved it with my own children.

Last week I got to the bizarre situation where my children where shouting at me to turn down the music. Usually it's the parents who scream at the kids "Turn the bleedin racket down." We were in the car driving someplace, anyplace just cruisin' and the kids were screaming "Turn it down!"
"But this is the Stereophonics." (local boy in a photograph as I recall)
"Give it a rest Dad."
"How about some Oasis then?"
"NO!"
"I've got some Metallica here."
"NO!"
What do my kids listen to? Oh yeah that'll be "Phantom of the opera" or "Cats" or "Moulin Rouge". God! What have I spawned?

Meanwhile the ex is in Worcester this weekend singing on stage with The Fortunes. Yes I know that goes back a bit. OK a lot. The Fortunes? You must remember them. They did "You've got your troubles I've got mine".
So this week I've been downloading the lyrics and chords and the music for her so she can brush up on it and make a killing. Yeah Yeah Yeah She's my ex wife, but in a way I still love her to death. I can't live with her. But she's kinda special. Actually between you and me we've been in discussion about doing something together, musically. She's a great singer and not a bad guitarist.She also plays flute and bass recorder. Whether it happens or not is debateable. But it would be kinda fun. But then again, do I want to go back to her telling me I play too loud, too fast, too aggressively, I don't sing in tune and all that? Maybe the idea is better than the reality.
While we keep each other at a distance our relationship is perfect, we're best friends. She phones me for chats regularly. We have a laugh. We take the piss out of each other mercilessly. And WE DON'T ARGUE.

Which reminds me of my brother. He had a perfect marriage (until he died in a diving accident) he and his wife had a house, a beautiful house, but he also had his "huffy flat". When he and his wife started getting on each others nerves he would disappear to his huffy flat in a huff. A few days later they would have a reunion and things would be perfect again. They went on like this for years and always remained true to each other. I know some peoples "huffy flat" is just the garden shed. Or the bench at the end of the road, or the pub. But it illustrates the fact that no matter how close you are to someone you always need your own space.

Oh dear! There's been a crash outside at the traffic lights. Some boy racer has just driven into the back of someone with a sickening crash. The boy racer seems very keen to settle the matter very quickly and get on his way. I suspect he's been drinking................ there's raised voices now.........the older chap in the Rover is keen to phone the police to settle the matter.... there could be trouble............. surprise surprise the boy racer is suddenly very apologetic.......... the older chap sees he has the upper hand as he inspects the damage to his rear end. Will he phone the police or wont he? I'm watching from my brilliant vantage point of inside my window.... shit hands have been shaken... details exchanged.... they drive off.

And there's a police car cruising by just two minutes too late.

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