What’s the single most grating sound your eardrums will ever encounter? The shriek of fingernails grinding over a chalkboard? Sarah Palin talking? Nope, it’s the shriek of a kid practicing on a wood-wind instrument.
In Colorado recently a woman threatened a neighboring kid who was practicing his clarinet in the yard with a group of friends. The kid was outside because his little brother was sleeping (or so Mom said). The woman leveled a shotgun at the group and screamed “Fire in the hole!” as the kids ran for cover.
This is exactly the type of tyranny the Founding Fathers envisioned when they wrote the 2nd Amendment. Imagine how much worse the sound was in 1787 when the air was also blown through wooden teeth.
Speaking of fire in the hole, I played a mean trumpet as a kid. When I played jazz I was like Miles Davis, if you stripped out the musical talent but kept the substance abuse. In the jazz band I just couldn’t keep up with the vicious stream of 1/60000th notes. So I joined the orchestra (look it up), which I really enjoyed. We had one girl who played the oboe. Talk about sheer bravery. The reed on an oboe is even narrower than Sean Hannity’s mind. Whenever it came her time to play, a brutal ear-splitting shriek would fill the air.
My prior musical venture was on the piano. My crowning achievement came during a solo performance at my music school. Halfway into my piece I lost track of where I was, so I just kept playing the same two refrains over and over. The parents in the small recital hall were eminently patient. Eventually my teacher walked up, put a hand on my shoulder, and told me it was okay to stop.
I don’t know if I bowed afterwards. But I should have. It’s tough to be a kid and even tougher learning an instrument. I hope our oboist went onto greatness. And I hope the kid in Colorado doesn’t let some whack-job gun-nut scare him off either.