But Tearfree digresses. The point is that she was one of only two students to rate “unsatisfactory” in her grade four music class with Miss Jamison. And when that report card with the “U” on it arrived, it came as a genuine shock to young Tearfree, who, up until that moment, had never suspected that she couldn’t sing.
Not that she let it get her down. In grade five, she signed up for the new experimental Suzuki Violin program at her school and because her marks in subjects other than music were good, she got in while some far more musically talented kid with lower math scores got left out.
Fate had its revenge however as Suzuki proved a disaster for Tearfree. At the year-end recital, she had to hide behind the class Amazon, while moving her bow in the same direction as everyone else but keeping it a good ½ centimeter above the strings. After the concert her mother told her, “ You were wonderful but I couldn’t see you behind Alexandra Biggirl.” Tearfree was jubilant that her deception had worked.
She was also amused to learn from a classmate that Miss Jamison had told some other students, “ You know Tearfree never could sing, but she sure can play the violin.” This confirmed to Tearfree what she had always suspected, namely that Miss J. and a number of authority figures from her childhood, didn’t have a clue what they were talking about.
For five years after the Suzuki debacle, Tearfree steered completely clear of music but then at age 15, love intervened and for her first boyfriend, she picked a choir boy, a tenor who, according to Google, still sings, and is happily married to a high-powered Silicon Valley executive with whom he runs marathons. Tearfree never went to see him sing, a fact that did not make the relationship stronger.
As she grew older Tearfree continued to feel bad about her neglect of her first love, her fondness for the Supremes, and the fact that she could only appreciate the most accessible of classical music – stuff like Beethoven’s fifth and ninth, Pachelbel’s Canon, etc. – but she never felt bad enough to do anything about it. She simply learned to live with the fact that her taste in music was dubious and that her CD collection and the playlist on her Ipod would not pass muster with hero of High Fidelity. He’d feel about it the way he did about Paul’s and Miranda’s
So poisonously awful that it should be put in a steel case and shipped off to some Third World waste dump. They’re all there Tina Turner, Billy Joel, Kate Bush, Pink Floyd, Simply Red, The Beatles, of course, Mike Oldfield (Tubular Bells I and II), Meat Loaf…I don’t have much time to examine the vinyl, but I see a couple of Eagles records, and I catch a glimpse of what looks suspiciously like a Barbara Dickson album.”
Well, now let’s see, Tina Turner, check, Kate Bush, check, Simply Red, check, The Beatles, check, check, check. Good thing that the whole lesson of High Fidelity is that the hero has to stop being such an insufferable music snob.
But Tearfree digresses yet again. The strange thing is that Tearfree’s daughter, despite having a very similar musical heritage to Tearfree, by, some fluke of genetics, turned out to be a musical talent.
“Wow,” said the musical specialist at the day care.
“She’s really good,” said the grade one singing teacher.
“Why didn’t you bring her in sooner?” said the Suzuki Violin teacher when she had her first lesson at age six and a half.
Then, at the second lesson when Tearfree was about to deposit her daughter and leave for a latte the violin teacher called after out her as she headed for the door, “Where do you think you’re going?”
“For coffee,” Tearfree answered.
“Oh no you don’t,” said the violin teacher. “With the Suzuki method, the parents are involved and have to stay for lessons.”
What fresh hell was this? As soon as she got home, Tearfree researched it on the Internet and found out that Suzuki had always involved the parents except for the initial bastardized version introduced in North America at Tearfree’s elementary school. Yes, Tearfree, Suzuki failure with major musical issues, was now supposed to inspect her daughter’s finger placement and elbow angle and all the things she hated even more than Lamaze breathing.
It was three years of Mother/daughter torture until a switch was made from violin to cello and from Suzuki to regular, but even then Tearfree had not escaped. One Saturday, when a temporary crown fell off, Tearfree and her daughter ran into the evil new cello teacher at the dentist, where she had a spring in her step unlike anything she ever displayed during the working week. Tearfree was reminded of Miss Jamison as she asked herself what kind of person prefers going to the dentist on a Saturday to a music teaching job at a school parents line up over night to get their kids into?
Almost two years later, upon graduation from elementary school, Tearfree’s daughter officially gave up the cello. Her passion now is musical theatre and tomorrowat the end of music camp, she will be singing Abba and Andrew Lloyd Weber medleys at the concert. Tearfree will be there tapping her feet and adding any songs which catch her fancy to her Ipod when she gets home.