Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Our whole house shakes with booming, groaning and thudding sounds. It could be an elephant up in one of the bedrooms, experiencing severe gastro-intestinal distress.

That would be a good guess.

But no- It's just my 13 year old son practicing on his guitar, which is plugged into an amplifier roughly the size of a small pony.

Yes, I am now the proud, though slightly deafened, mother of a teenaged, electric-bass playing child.

Looks really happy, doesn't he?

I'm not quite sure how it happened. One minute he's singing along to karaoke songs from Grease on the PlayStation 2 and the next thing I know, he's planning on being the Haute Savoie's answer to Ronnie Wood. (OK- so I'm old. If you know nothing about classic rock and haven't a clue who Wood is or what group he plays for, feel free to insert the name of some famous bass player from a current band. But you are sadly ignorant. I'm just saying. )

A few weeks ago, Sev told us his best friend had bought a guitar (second-hand, over the internet, from Germany. Modern times, you know) and they were forming a rock band. The fact that neither one of them had ever even touched a guitar didn't hold them back for a second. Actually, Sev's interest in doing this is far less puzzling than his friend's. Sev, at least, owns an iPod and enjoys listening to groups like Green Day, Simple Plan and Good Charlotte
But his pal Max had never seemed all that into music.

"What does he like, music-wise?" I asked Sev.

"I don't know...The Shrek soundtrack, I guess."

"You're going to have a garage band that covers tunes from animated films, then?" I wasn't being sarcastic -I'm all for a nice Beauty and the Beast medly. I just wanted to know.

Sev then explained that he hoped to be a good influence on his pal and widen his musical horizons beyond songs written for g-rated movies.

So it was that on Saturday morning, Sev took out some of his savings and bought himself a used bass and practice amp. He's been practising ever since, using printouts from the internet and hints gathered from watching YouTube videos.

At first, it was sounding pretty dreadful. Now, at least he can play some scales. The only problem is that the guitar seems to not be entirely in tune. I can hear that it's the A string that's the problem, but haven't a clue how to tune a guitar and am afraid to touch it. (My lack of coolness might make it explode, I suspect) And even more worryingly, the fact that his scales all sound a half-step off in the middle doesn't seem to bother Sev much. In contrast, the out of tune bits are like fingernails on chalkboard to me. But he happily plays on... and I'm not sure this bodes well for any future music he creates.

But he's having fun for now. And in the fall, he'll be able to join the local "School of Rock" and get some proper instruction. The school (really called "Les Passeurs d'Arts) is a great local institution that is very active in the region. There are several rock bands in it, all based in our small valley. They play in lots of concerts all year long and seem to have a great time. So, I'm looking forward to Severin getting involved and meeting new people. While my girls have taken horse riding lessons and dance lessons for many years, nothing seemed to interest Sev much before this. The only activity he really liked in Ouaga was fencing, but there's no fencing club nearby here in France for him to join.

"Being in a band will be great for him" I told JP. "It's much better than him sitting alone in his room playing PlaySation 2."

"It's much better than him taking cocaine, too." JP answered.

I think he was trying to be funny, but I think my response was even funnier, as I drily pointed out that people have been known to combine the two activities...


oreneta said...

Yes, the combo of coke and rock bands has, I believe, occured. Did you happen to see your daughter's post on elephants? You have a little theme going on over there.

She seems a little, um, amused, by the local dance classes.

An inability to play or tune an instrument has not been a problem for any number of famous rock bands. Please note I did not say musicians....Those bands do tend to combine the two activities more though, no? Maybe lessons would be in order.

Kelly said...

buy some ear plugs!

Seriously, that's great he's found something he likes. My son wants a set of drums. Oy vay.

babzee said...

Ah well, it beats the dozen opening notes of "Smoke on the Water" played over and over and OVER. My son's first band was called "Pi = 3" and they disbanded over the conduct of the bass player (whose body has never been found, heh heh heh). Is Sev gonna SING? Think McCartney, Sting and Will Lee!

How do you get a bass player off your front porch? Pay him for the pizza!

Why does it take a bass player so long to get in the house? Because he keeps fumbling around looking or the right key.

Bass Player: I can't go on! That roadie de-tuned one of my strings!
Lead Singer: Well, fix it!
Bass Player: I can't - he won't tell me which one!

Got a million of 'em...

Beth said...

Rocky: I guess our years in Africa marked us forever. We definitely seem a bit elephant-obsessed.
And ITA- he is SO taking lessons starting in September!$

Kelly: Yeah, a bass is cheap and quiet compared to a drum kit. Good luck with that.

Cris: Yes, Sev will sing. He likes to sing- though all he's ever sung around the house were songs from 'Oklahoma' and 'West Side Story', etc... I really had him pegged as more 'Broadway' than 'rock and roll'.

LOVE the jokes!