confessions of a [motherofadrummer]

If you truly know my son, you know he truly relishes music.  He turned 16 this week, on Groundhog Day to be exact.  And since I haven’t really written a blog entry about the life and times of living with a future rock star, or future band teacher, or the next Oscar Peterson, or the kid who’ll take over someday when Joel Houston gets too old. . . . . . in honor of his birthday, I shall. [I used shall as opposed to will because that’s what Jamie would do.]

I’ve learned a few things through the years about having a musical kid.  If you follow the news, you might have heard about Amy Chua.  She wrote a book entitled, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. I can assure you I’m not like her.  I have not pressured my son to practice.  Pushed a bit, maybe, but for the most part, he’s been self motivated.  And it’s worked fairly well.  If he gets into Julliard, I’ll send Amy a letter.

Because I have a musical kid, people often say something to me along these lines, “Jamie’s really into music,” or “Music is his thing.”  What I really want to share with those people is that it’s really so much more than that.  The word {music} encompasses so much.  Bach/Beyonce/Beck – they each represent music to different people.

Jamie plays piano, guitar and percussion.  Percussion actually includes much more than most people realize:  it’s more than playing a drum.  There are some serious marimba players out there {I’m serious, there really are}.  I acknowledge a lot of kids play an instrument, or even more than one.  But I’ve found that not so many plan to make music their life.

Being the mother of a serious musician means you attend a lot of auditions.  Which are nerve wracking.  They generally consist of 1 shot.  You don’t start over if you mess up.  And moms can’t go into the audition room and explain to the judges how great their kid is.  Or express why asking a 7th grader to play a B flat scale is maybe a bit much under such pressured circumstances. 

High school musicians aren’t scouted like athletes.  Note that many Lexington kids who are great at sports end up at Lexington Catholic High School or Lexington Christian.  There’s a website that lists Kentucky boys’ high school basketball stats.  There’s no such site that lists which high schooler plays the best classical guitar in the state.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not against school athletics.  But I do wonder why the best quarterbacks in the state are written about in the Lexington Herald Leader, yet the kids who make all district band never get mentioned.

Being the mother of a musician means you go to the Singletary Center often.  Because they offer free concerts featuring University of Kentucky students.  And that’s a good thing.  Especially if you enjoy the concerts too.  Which I do. 

I never have to worry about my son becoming one of those kids that goes to Ichthus and ends up getting high [yes, I mean high, as in using drugs – trust me, people do it!].  Jamie enjoys music way too much to miss an act. 

Being the mother of a drummer does mean there’s a lot of drumming in the house.  Meaning a lot of practicing on a practice pad.  But it also means having a son with excellent rhythm.  Having an internal metronome has to be a plus.  I believe it will take him far in life.

As the mother of a jazz pianist, I have come to discover there are many more musical scales than I previously realized.  Or at least I’d forgotten about them.  Harmonic minors, for example.  And the chord figuration discussions he and I have:  “Jamie, isn’t a G9 the same as a G2?”  He really gets into this type of convo. 

Having a son that plays guitar means I know more than the average mom about Jack White.  I’ve seen “It Might Get Loud” at the theater.  I know Jack hails from Detroit.  He moved his bed out of his childhood bedroom to make room for his drum set.  He married Meg White, and changed his name to White.  Now they’re divorced.  She struggles with stage fright.  Now he’s married to a model and lives in Nashville.  I could go on. . . . . .

Today’s seriously-into-music types own a record player.  This seems particularly interesting to the over 40 crowd.  When I mention this to other adults, they are often dumbfounded.

“He plays vinyl records?”

“Why yes, he does.”  

Which means we visit Pops, CD Central, and I even picked up a couple vinyl stocking stuffers at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.  If you’ve ever been to Pops, you might have noticed the odd smell.  I can hardly stand it.

Despite my dislike of aforementioned Amy Chua’s parenting methods, my son does practice and practice often.  And it does get loud.  And because my daughter is also a band student, sometimes they practice at the same time.  If you’ve ever visited a college building with student practice rooms, you can imagine our home at times.  One kid playing a Christmas song on the bell kit, one kid playing rudiments on a drum pad.  One kid cranking up the electric guitar while the other plays a classical piano piece.  But I’ve learned to never complain about the noise.  That’s quite possibly the worst thing the mother of a musician can do.  Complaining leads to no practice, which leads one down the road of musical discontentment and angst.

So without getting philosophical, I’ll simply leave it at this:  Being the mother of a drummer/guitarist/keyboardist is the only kind of mother I know how to be to my son, because that’s what’s he always been.  And it often means parenting a kid who puts himself out there, expressing himself creatively.  And it means parenting a kid who wants to watch School of Rock every time it’s replayed on television.

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