Thursday, October 09, 2008

Many of you may have had to endure the tribulation of taking piano lessons during your delicate, impressionable, formative years.

You were to receive instruction after school on say, Wednesdays, which you positively dreaded, and pretended to be deathly ill every Wednesday morning, to no avail.

You also repeated this ridiculous ploy on Sunday mornings to avoid Sunday School..which was also an excercise in futility.

Upon arriving home, by means of the longest, possible, route, you discovered that your Mother had sanitized your domicile from floor to ceiling until everything sparkled.

She did this to avoid the wrath of your Music Teacher who lived down the corner in a pristine, little, cottage with a white, picket, fence that barely contained the meanest, f*cking, dog in the neighbourhood.

As you changed into your Sunday Best you started to feel your sphincter clamp and your hands became clammy. By the time you sat down upon the freshly, oiled, bench in front of the Piano, sweat began to trickle down your nose...and your heart started beating like a rabbit!

always, always, always, exactly three every time

In strode the object of your fears. Mrs. Kunstaeder..
who you privately referred to as Couldn't-stand-her..
but only in your head.

She was a stout, dour, woman of no fixed Eastern European descent who reeked of Cabbage and an assortment of other unidentifiable smells that could not compete with Cabbage.

She was a widow perpetually enveloped in something black whose husband had died decades ago during the Great War, you didn't know which, and it was never fully disclosed whether or not her dearly departed had fought and died for the Kaiser or against him. Nobody was brave enough to ask.

She never smiled, took off her coat, or asked about your grades. Mrs. Kudintstandher sat down beside you, her humongous brusts were bigger than your head and levitated inches from the Piano..
seemingly defying gravity out of sheer stubborn willpower.

She folded her hands with those HUGE knuckles, and yelled at the top of her lungs something that sounded like this..

"Fangen Sie an zu spielen wenig Scheiße.. Jetzt Arschloch!"

Which loosely translated means.."begin to play it now you little asshole."

Most of my memories of her have been locked away deep in my subconscience, but years later I did come to understood why any competent Parent would thoughtlessly introduce their children to the glorious world of Music with a souless, terrifying, witch like Couldn't-stand-her.

Not only must they have thought that their shiftless, little, thick as a brick, twats somehow deserved to be tortured by the firm hand of a tyrannical monster, and be subjected to the tortuous, sensory deprivation of countless, tedious, hours of rote-'o-rooter type instruction... but,

they also want to destroy any fanciful notions of becoming a famous Rock Star, making Million$, and enjoying a perfectly wonderful life filled with illicit excess.

Recently I came upon the archaic, turn-of-the-century Music book that we used.

I had forgotten how dys-frickin-functional der Finger Family vass.

Father Finger..

He was a little blurry and bleary eyed because he came home from the Pub everyday demanding supper and looking for a fight. He'd been drunk every day since he was laid off at the factory.

Mother Finger..

She was a textbook enabler who pretended that everything was fine and she pointed out that Father was just tired and a little upset because his Team lost again...and you needed to whisper while Father had his nap in the front hallway.

Big Brother..

The middle finger..say no more. He hated the world, and made your life a living hell. He would be blackmailing you until he finally made it into the Juvenile Correction Facility..and your Mother would make you visit him on Weekends!


That was you.

You'll never amount to anything because you're lazy and stupid!

Smarty Pants..

Your little f*cking brother. Oh how the Sun shone out of his ass. He could do no wrong. He got everything that he wanted because he sucked up to Mother and Father. He was their favorite..little shit.

So there you have it. A little stroll down memory lane and a decent explanation of why I am not a famous Rock Star.


  1. Ah, my parents were determined to make me interested in learning how to play a musical instrument, because then I would become middle class and would never have to work in a factory (that was their logic, anyway). They couldn't afford to let me have piano lessons, so it was a waste of time really. Mind you, they managed to get a piano which was donated by my friend's grandmother, and spent the next thirty years taking up too much space in our front room. If friends visited we used to end up playing chopsticks on it or generally making an annoying noise.

    I didn't become a rock star either. Oh well ...

  2. You COULD have been taught by Dr. Terwilliker!

  3. I was never taught to play a musical instrument.
    I was never molested by a teacher.
    I was never invited to join the athletics team.
    Is it any wonder that I am such a mess?
    And there you go, rubbing it all in, as it were.

  4. Superbly detailed, so many visions actually sprang to mind as I read through the entire post twice.

    This for me was the killer line..

    "He was a little blurry and bleary eyed because he came home from the Pub everyday demanding supper and looking for a fight. He'd been drunk every day since he was laid off at the factory."

  5. So, so what,
    I am a rock star,
    I got my rock moves,
    And I don't want you tonight!

    Sorry, I just couldn't resist.

  6. Wow. Who knew she taught piano, too? In ballet class the paino was played by Miss Tongue-in-cheek who was as likely to act out as we were -- and just as likely to get yelled at. (MUst be why Mrs Couldn't-stand-her didn't play her own piano -- she had too much supervision to perform.) She entirely lacked a sense of humour, didn't she?

  7. Ugh, you brought back memories. I HATED piano lessons. Ours was every Saturday morning. My sisters and I would fight about who was going to be first.

  8. Anonymous9:53 p.m.

    I am going to inflict this misery on my children too. Hey, I had to go through it...why should they get off scott-free?!

  9. i was the "smarty pants" in my family... i was never forced to play an instrument! which is a pity, cause NOW i'm sorry i never took the time :)

    have a great weekend!!

  10. Oh No!
    My selective memory had blocked out piano lessons.
    My piano teacher was an alcoholic which wasn't too bad.
    But between one lesson and the next I had to deal with my mum, scary threats and long silences interrupted by the word practise.

  11. thank god i was not forced to piano classes...or any music stuff for thaat maatter. hehehe. bt i love listening to music. hmmm...

    hey my castaway...which island are u stranded in? :D

  12. Off-topic: Are you going to watch Less Than Kind on Monday night?

    Winnipeg on telly! Woohoo!

  13. Back-on-topic: I've mastered the skin flute.

    Well somebody had to say it!

  14. I didn't know my ex mother in law taught piano... hmmm. Interesting.

  15. Wow... I LOVED my piano lessons, and singing lessons, and flute lessons!! :)

  16. Anonymous1:42 a.m.

    Missed out on piano lessons cos I was not one of the Followers of the Roman Faith and the nun-teacher wouldn't have me.
    But I played happily on the linoleum...
    Well, MJ said the other thing...

  17. "MJ said...
    Back-on-topic: I've mastered the skin flute."

    LMAO. I just have to say that I love MJ.

  18. I grew up with a piano in the house and a mother who was a music teacher in an elementary school.

    I took lessons with someone else (I am sure by the end of the day my mum was sick and tired of teaching everyone else's kids so didn't have the energy to teach her own), never did learn to read music because I could follow by ear much too well and have regretted not applying myself to it more when I was a kid.

    That's why I am not a Rock Star either. Although I can carry a tune half decently.

  19. I never had any musical instruments lesson; instead, I was forced into that tortuous Guantanamo bay like experience known as choir. I was a choir boy for years til I was old enough to refuse (or at least learned how to disappear when it was time for practice!).

    My older sisters, however, luv to play the ukulele! I don't want to be a rock star.

    I want to be the guy signing the rock star's check!

  20. My teacher was a white-haired sweetie that fed me turnip soup(which was actually edible as opposed to my mother's)She was kind an patient. I stayed with her long enough to learn the basics, a lovely gift. My youngest son is teaching himself music... it is amazing to hear him progress from week to week.
    What you wrote was so much fun, you really made it come to live and the illustrations and comments had me laughing out loud! Very funny!!
    Your blog was a treat today.

  21. Oh my...the visuals you created are so funny, but scary too.

    I learnt piano, nice teacher, Mrs Rogers...really perfect hair, teeth, clothes, family....all was well until her daughter had a birthday, a 7th birthday I think.

    Invited me out to their farm for the weekend, had lots of nice food to eat and little hotdogs, I'd never had them before so I ate and ate and ate......

    2 am all the little tasty hotdogs came back up...I never made it outta the sweet, nice, pretty little bed she had made up for me...little hotdogs all over the doona lace quilt...

    Things were never the same with Mrs Rogers again after that...........memories are made to chunder. :)

    I am glad that you enjoyed my work of ficition. I was a Rock Star in a short lived Garage Band in which I pounded the daylights out of my Slingerland Kit to impress a girl and she fell for it...and all my dreams came true.

    It isn't a Family Gathering UNLESS the tmost annoying child in the gene pool relentlessly fumbles about trying to play chopsticks while everyone else is trying to talk about a grave illness or recent tragedy. SHUT UP!

    Thanks for the link..I should be able to figure out how to access it by Tuesday.

    Despite all of these hardships you have somehow managed to become a productive member of the Upper Class..what is your secret?

    That of course was the Finger Family. My Father was the kindest, gentlest soul in the Cosmos and I actually never saw him 'sleep it off' on a pile of shoes in the front hallway.

  23. ANNA
    I am feeling 'in the Pink' again. Thank You.

    That was so Old School eh? Now there isn't a modern, helicopter Parent who would EVER let their kids
    A:go to someone else's home or
    B:be left alone in a room with another adult.
    That's just crazytalk!

    Did you ever figure out that it never paid to go first..prolly...
    by the time the second set of chopsticks began the teacher had given up and started daydreaming about how awful her life had become and was way past caring about the lesson.

    That's right. It is all about building character, stick-with-it-ness, and learning to overcome adversity and weird smells.
    Someday, they'll thank you for it..

    Why you little so&so! It's criminal to get such a free ride when you're a kid because when the time comes to put on your 'big girl panties', all of a sudden the world forgets that you're special and your entire cosmology implodes into a heap of self doubt and...or if you up the amperage you can still manage to get away with a lot of sh*t for a few more decades.

  24. KAZ
    Well scary threats are the backbone and central theme of child rearing. Without making ridiculous threats a Parent wouldn't have any leverage at all? What else can you do? You gotta feed them and send them to school.
    It's a no-win situation from the get-go.

    I love music too...what I don't love is GMAIL and I will go over there right after I finish up here. Sorry. I just do-not-prefer having Google know everything about my cyberlife.

    Again with the links? Bless your heart. You are determined to correct my e-retardedness. Since most of these upstanding citizens will not have the foggiest notion of what a skin flute it is up to me to congratulate you and thank you..on behalf of every 13 year old shuffling through the collection of reading materials that arehidden under his bed..thank you..
    every one of us thought that every girl would know how to blow on that thing and make sweet, sweet, music.

    What an excellent answer..just brimming with a vortex of innuendo..
    most sentences that contain the phrase 'my ex-mother-in-law' are usually followed by lots of symbols like %#^@$ *(^#% @%$#^.

    My ex-mother-in-law and I still get along famously and it helps to know that I was her favorite..and that included all of her kids.

    Way to kill the vibe at my little bitchfest.

    If it was so much bloody fun why don't you come over here and sing for us?

    My Word! You have my complete and undivided attention.
    During my formative years I was the only Protestant in a Catholic school and got to read comix while the others were intently listening to Papal Bulls...naturally I paid for it dearly during recess.

    We all admire her fearless forays just past that imaginary line of conversationalism that members of polite society so ridiculously cling to. Thank goodness she says all of those things because it makes my job so much easier.
    I love her too.

    Once again, the lesson of the shoemaker's kids going barefoot is proven. Why is that?

    I shall fogo my modus operendi of no thought goes unvoiced and let the myriad of choirboy jokes dissipate into the ether. I admit to performing in church and were it not for the terror of knowing that I would spend eternity in hell if I hit the wrong note I would have not sang my heart out. What an awesome motivational tool.

    I would like to own the Record Company too..on top of sucking your kneecaps, they have to invite you to everything.

    Turnip soup for the soul? It is very rewarding to hear your offspring finally reach a chord that doesn't make the Dog run under the couch. It's hard not running over and and showing them the progression..
    HERE!THIS! SEE THAT'S "F"..only Jazz musicians strung out on an armful of smack use this one!!

    Oh my WORD! That is one of those instances that you would change if you ever got your hands on a Time Machine. Those childhood traumas never EVER leave you do they?

    She prolly still mentions it to her friends in the nursing home....
    "I had this little piglet who barfed hotdogs all over my sheets in the middle of the night"
    On the horror, the horror.

  26. thx for settlin it bro. :)

    i gonna eat all of us soon. sigh.

  27. I'm so glad I'm not alone with my Mrs Turtle hell of secondary school.

    Forcing kids to music lessons in instruments their parents would liked to have learned themselves should definitely constitute child abuse!


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