Challenge: Using prose or poetry, write a story, true or fictional, about something that happened in your childhood that might have had some influence on what you do or how you think today.
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In a recent comment, I mentioned that my writing is technically proficient, but lacks warmth. Call it heart, soul, or anything else, I just don’t have it. That made me think about my brushes with music when I was growing up.
I was about eight when my parents decided I needed to learn how to play a musical instrument. The local Milton Mann accordion studio had some kind of special running and I was duly signed up. Along with the enrollment fee, we also got free rental of a cheap little accordion that looked very much like the picture. I completed the course, was accepted into the Milton Mann All-Star Band, and then gave up on it.
The following year I was somehow signed up for music in school and wound up learning the cello. That lasted one year only and for a very good reason -- it was as big as I was, I had to carry the thing to and from school, and I walked most days.
As a side note, I’ll mention that this was the time I learned that life isn’t fair. Our house was the second from the east end of the block and that street was the dividing line. The kids on the other side of the street lived over a mile from school and rode the bus. Those of us on our side of the street lived under a mile from school and had to walk.
The following year I was back in music, but this time I was playing the clarinet. Nope, I have no idea why, but I learned that instrument. I stuck with that one through junior high and was even in the school orchestra.
Here’s where the similarity of music and writing appears. I learned to read music and I played each note exactly as it was printed on the paper. Like my writing, I was technically very good on all three instruments, but I couldn’t play anything unless I had the sheet music in front of me. I had no “ear” for music.
My dad had played the flute in high school and, because a flute and a clarinet are fingered the same, my dad learned to play my clarinet in no time. What frustrated me was that he’d listen to a song on the radio or just think of some song and start playing it with no sheet music. I was never able to do that -- I couldn’t even play “Three Blind Mice” without a sheet of music!
I don’t believe there’s any causal relationship between my music and writing, but there has to be some reason I can’t put any warmth in my writing.
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Accordion picture used by permission of James Coranit, LLC.