Child is Fodder to the Man

by Ted Gargiulo — My dad KNEW music. When I was six, he tried teaching me the piano—emphasis on “tried.” He had about as much success that year teaching me to ride a bicycle. At least I didn’t break my neck practicing the piano. 

Six is an ideal age for most youngsters with average abilities to begin basic keyboard…provided they’re willing to learn. Mozart was only three. Granted, I was no Mozart. Neither was my dad.  Nevertheless, he was a consummate musician in his own right, and more than capable of passing his specialty on to me.  Although I inherited his love of music—greatest blessing this side of heaven!—I didn’t take kindly to instruction. I was simply too lazy and too stubborn to apply myself. Then again, my dad wasn’t the most patient of instructors, and would smack me in the head when I messed up some fingering he’d shown me. His chastisements, however, were more amusing than angry, and far less painful than falling off a bicycle.  ??The practice books we used contained songs of increasing complexity. The first was only a few notes long. The second built upon the first, the third built upon the second, and so forth. This dodo never got past the seventh song in Volume One. You see, I never actually learned to READ the notes (too challenging). Instead, I memorized the fingering and PRETENDED to read them, then flaunted my newfound “technique” by stringing together all the songs I’d memorized into one 20-second rhapsody. Breathtaking!??I doubt my dad took these lessons all that seriously once he saw where they were headed. He seemed to go from being overly critical to not giving a damn what I did. Sure, he could have forced me to work harder. But he knew that wouldn’t have produced a superior musician, merely an emotionally scarred ignoramus. Besides, the maestro and I had artistic differences. I thought my version of “Jingle Bells” superior to his. His fingering for the left hand was too difficult, needlessly demanding. Why did I have to keep changing chords, when it was so much easier to pound the same one over and over again? I thought my arrangement sounded fine. He insisted it didn’t.  ??”Why not?”?”Because it’s wrong.”?”But it works.”  ?“No, it DOESN’T.  It sounds like garbage!” 
That’s where it ended.

Such has been the story of my story. Always wanting things easy and comfortable for myself, always gravitating toward vocations that were humdrum, repetitive, and tedious as hell. Much like my left-handed accompaniment: striking the same dull chord again and again. It may  have sounded like garbage. But it worked.??I regret a number of opportunities I botched when I was young. Yet, from those failures, this fool-turned-author learned more about himself than any amount of success could have taught him, and harvested enough material from his first childhood to last him well into his second.
Today, I make a different kind of music, pecking out tunes on a QWERTY instead of a piano.  My secretary-mom gave up trying to teach this knucklehead touch-typing. Instead, I developed my own method of producing words. I call it my “Three Finger Sonata in G.  Might not be technically correct. But hey, it works!??The kid can learn, but he can’t be taught.

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