Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Music Makes Pictures

"Music makes pictures and often tells stories, all of them magic and all of them true...."

(James Taylor)


We are a musical family. Both my parents, my brother Jimbo, Sean, his parents; someone is ALWAYS singing. Usually, withing minutes, they are accompanied. I grew up with some of Trinidad's local musical greats (and some foreign ones too) coming and going through our house. Jam sessions just happened. My brother and I would work for hours on harmonies to get them just SO. I practiced guitar till my fingers were numb. Every single family gathering, on both sides of the family, includes performed music. Fun, excellent, and often hilarious renditions. Uncle Dougie's Scottish version of "I've got a loverly bunch of coconuts", "Mi yellow viva" which commemorates the theft of someone's car and is sung to the tune of "Siempre Viva", "Que sera, sera" with feeling, every Beatles' song, Simon and Garfunkel....

We own over 20 guitars, that I can think of. Not counting other stringed instruments, flutes, harmonicas, recorders, drums, percussion, and odd collectibles for tooting, twanging, bongling and dongling. We have a basket of assorted stuff that was a toybox for the kids: Maracas of varying tones, triangles, manjeeras, things that go "crrrrrrr" or "wooopiwooopiwoop" or "wheeeeeee!" Oh, and a Yamaha synthesizer. Which does everything.

When I met Sean, I fell in love with his music first. When in the past we have fought, some of our friends didn't say "What about the children?" but "What about the music?" and it IS a big question. Sean is my accompaniment. We seldom perform now, but our fans go wild when we do. They tolerate whatever we have on our set list, and then demand Joni Mitchell and Jefferson Airplane tunes that they have already heard a dozen times. But we love it. I love to perform. Sean loves to perform. Jimbo loves to perform. We are a bunch of divas when we get the chance.

Jimbo writes excellent lyrics, and his tunes are good too. Sean writes gorgeous guitar pieces. I no longer play flamenco guitar the way I used to: those stretches are beyond me now, because what Mom has hours to practice every day? But I can teach.

So, our boys have been immersed in and surrounded by music since the womb. They were singing before they spoke. Is it any wonder they turn every raised surface into a stage? Would anyone be surprised at their comfort with guitars? We have been gently nudging them since they could reason: Move that thumb. Sit up straight. Alternate picking! Fourth fret. That's a minor. Use your little finger. Niiiiice. Sometimes, we think we should push them to practice harder, stop farting around. Do SCALES! ("They could be REALLY GOOD!") But then we remember that soon, they will realise that chicks dig guys who can play guitar. They will get serious soon enough! And right now, they are kids. Music is play. If I sometimes say "Would you PUT that guitar DOWN? NO MORE practicing! Go and play outside!" I can blame it all on Sean for turning them into Ozzy Ozbourne and Rush and Metallica fans. A Mom can only take so many power-chords.

But I will be interested to see what my little musicians end up doing. Will they, like their families, keep music as a hobby or an occasional added income? Or will they "Get serious", any of them? What kind of music will they play? Will Max's arms ever be long enough to play the half-size fiddle? Will they always play together, as Jimbo and I still do? Will their harmonies and their "rounds" always make me melt? Their music is so special to me.

Sometimes it's so amazing I just can't believe it's real.

4 comments:

Tash said...

You're damn right it's special. I wish I could help mine with his guitar but I'm stone-tone deaf. I'm so glad he is musical but my lack of a musical bone in my body is of no use to him. He has noone to strum with, no one to teach him except a tutor. Keep it up and yes, send them out when they're playing too many power chords!

See you later!

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

How awesome. I yearn for a musical family--whenever we're around them I am amazed by how easy it comes. We're tone deaf on a good day here!

witchypoo said...

My mother was tone deaf. I inherited her talent. Everyone else in the family is musical. Very few of them are psychic, though, so there's that.

LceeL said...

YOU are amazing. Trinidad will miss you.