I have been silently observing my eldest son’s progress with the keyboards the past few days. He only knows one song, he just had his first lesson with his dad last Monday, after all. But he’s been turning on that keyboard several times during the past two days and had been practicing the chords without prodding and singing along with it.
I try not to make a big deal of it, at least not within his hearing. He’s turning 12 on Monday and no longer appreciates being fawned upon like a little boy.
Pablo has always shown interest in the instrument, but for the past two years, we had him learn the guitar, albeit, with very minimal success.
In my opinion, guitar is a harder instrument to learn. I used to play the piano back in high school and I’d like to think I did well back then. I tried learning the guitar, but I’ve not gone too far from the D-A-G-A progression, haha!
Pablo did slightly better than me, but he wasn’t all that interested. In fact, in the middle of last school year, he asked to discontinue the lessons.
I said no. Instead, I struck a deal with him that if he sticks to the guitar until the end of the school year, and gives it his best, he can move to learning the keyboards the following school year and never has to touch the guitar again. He agreed. Lucky for him, his dad became too busy to teach him regularly!
Easy on the outside, discipline on the inside
Once upon a time, my husband and I were struggling musicians who lugged around our instruments, taking public transport to our gigs and taking hits from people who understood little about the industry. One particular evening stands out in my memory.
We were on our way home and decided to take a jeep to our subdivision. We had our instruments with us – a guitar and a keyboard synthesizer. A really big one. I had on make-up and we were dressed for the gig we came from. Across us sat a group of young professionals in their mid-20’s, around the same age as us. One of them who probably drank a little more than he could handle, started insulting us.
To make the long story short, he was insinuating that our lives were easier because we were only musicians. He said that if he looked good, he’d just be a musician and just be cute to earn money. He was so loud, everybody in the jeep could hear him.
To be fair to his companions, they seemed embarrassed by him,though they didn’t really do much to stop him. It was a short ride so we just ignored his rants and alighted at our stop.
Anyway, that’s how music and performing looks on the outside. To someone who doesn’t really know what it’s like, it looks fun and easy to do. It can be fun, yes, but it’s not always easy. I can’t begin to tell you what we’ve gone through in those years trying to stay afloat.
Discipline and commitment are integral to being a musician. As my husband says, music is a special skill. It takes years of discipline, hard work, commitment and passion to develop the skills and be outstanding at it.
Just like his dad
Pablo is an over-thinker (like me). Because his dad is primarily a guitarist, he must have felt obligated to follow in his footsteps. Jay was a damn good guitarist and had gained respect among his fellow musicians during our time. Among all our children, Pablo was the only one who witnessed those years. He must have thought he’s expected to be just like his father so when we asked him what instrument he wanted to learn, he asked for a guitar.
I’ve known this for a while but I still made him stick to the guitar for a period of time because, for one, the music circuit is a tough industry, it doesn’t cater well to whiners. I don’t know for sure if the performing genes will play a big part in their future, maybe yes, maybe no. But if they do, I think that it’s best to equip them while they’re young.
I understand how Pablo felt about following in his dad’s footsteps, and in a way, it’s noble, but he’s going to lead his own family someday. He needs to learn how to be his own man. To make wise, bold, and strong decisions. He can’t be making decisions based on external pressure and what he assumes to be expectations of him.
By making him stick to the guitar, Pablo learned what it’s like to get stuck in situations you don’t want to be in when you make wrong decisions. What do you do when you’re at it? Do you whine? Do you quit? Or do you rise above it?
I know Pablo decided on the guitar because he wanted to please us. I hope the experience had taught him to also be truthful about how he feels from the very beginning. He needs to know what he’s been created capable of. He needs to know his strengths and know when to stick to them whatever the odds are.
And I hope that we have also taught him to be faithful in little things (Luke 16:10). I watched Pablo faithfully strum his guitar despite his obvious lack of progress. His playing wasn’t exemplar, but it’s the character we’re looking at
Music and Arts is such a powerful platform for training. Pablo still has a long way to go but the potential is there. I’m glad he’s enjoying his new instrument.
But there’s still a lot more to learn in terms of technical skills and so much more to develop in terms of attitude and character.
“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” Galatians 1:10.
“Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil” Matthew 5:37.