Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Rock This House

My 12-year-old son is an aspiring rock/jazz/whatever musician - he plays drums (which means that eventually the band will have to rehearse at our house) and percussion in the school band (which means he loves experimenting with anything around the house that makes noise when banged, and he's learned to play the piano with his two index fingers pointed like xylophone mallets). I love that music is part of his life, even though it does mean we all have to schedule activities requiring concentration (business calls, homework, thinking) when Ben isn't practicing drums.

Who knows what he'll end up doing with it - but sometimes I wonder, what was it like for Keith Moon's mom when he was in middle school? Did Phil Collins' mother ever have to remind him to stop banging and start practicing his rudiments? Will I end up going to his concerts with earplugs and a walker? Occasionally I get little glimpses of my future as a rockstar's mom - the other day Ben played drums for a show I wrote & music directed at our synagogue for Purim (gotta love us Jews, Purim is a holiday all about spoofs and costumes, and in fact it is a commandment "to get so drunk you don't recognize anyone"). He did quite well, and after the show, several girls his age casually sauntered over to hang out and look at the drums - I tried not to kvell (yiddish for 'beam with pride til your kid yells, God, mom, you're embarrasing me'') as I watched Ben nonchalantly toss his sticks and show the girls a few fills. My husband's comment was, Wow, drummers really are chick magnets!

Ben has also discovered this wonderful computer program called GarageBand - no, it's not a video game, it's software that works as a home recording studio when you pair it with a midi-synthesizer (which is just about any cheap keyboard, trust me, I'm not that tech savvy!). I use it all the time for work, recording demos, making accompaniment CDs and editing other tracks, and it's pretty incredible, especially considering it's free (but only with Macintosh computers, yet another reason why I won't buy a PC). Sure, there are some limitations, but it's saved me thousands of dollars in recording studio time for projects that don't need album quality. Anyway, I showed Ben the basics, and he figured the rest out for himself (god love these modern kids weaned on nintendos and texting - they're not afraid of anything technical!). I found one of his compositions, and I alternated between gaping admiration and hysterical laughter; it was a long meandering opus with 3-minute wild guitar solos, and he had played with the speed to create impossibly fast drum beats, and while it definitely wasn't ready for MTV, I thought, sheesh, this isn't that far from those artsy pieces by 70s bands like Emerson Lake and Palmer or ELO. Actually, it was exactly what I would have expected from Keith Emerson if he'd had Garageband as a 12-year-old.

There are definite ups & downs to being a musician's mom - sure there's the noise, and driving to lessons, plus drum heads and the various paraphenalia get expensive. But oh, it was incredibly cool to play the synagogue show with my son, and if nothing else, having so much noise in the house has improved my ability to concentrate. In fact, I wrote this whole entry while he was practicing, apart from the break I took to argue with Ben about whether he'd practiced only 5 minutes or the 20 that he claimed - sometimes, even geniuses hate to practice!

2 comments:

Liz said...

I often secretly hope my 3 year old will grow up to be a rock star..complete with a drum set in the house in his teen years...! Hmm...

WackyMummy said...

I hadn't thought about rock star for my boy... I'm still fixated on him turning pro in baseball (he's got a wicked throw)...