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The one question you never want your child to ask…

It’s the one question, you never want your child to ask.

Last autumn, our neighbour (alongside her daughter) offered to take our eldest to the local Culture School’s Open Day. (In Sweden, primary schools don’t really have big instrumental programs, so if you want to learn an instrument, you attend the ‘Culture School’ after hours.) This was a chance to come along and test out a few different instruments.

I got a text to say the girls were loving it and were having a lot of fun. Later, in the middle of the afternoon, I got call. I was expecting, ‘Can I stay longer and have a fika*?’ but what I got was something that you never hope to hear fly out of your child’s mouth: ‘Mummy, can I learn the clarinet?’.

STOP. IT. WHAT. IS. GOING. ON. HERE. ‘If by clarinet, you really mean trumpet, sure, sign up and go ahead,’ I said. ‘Oh mummy, no, I really want to learn the clarinet’. Apparently, they both did. ‘Well ok, I can only hope that this will be some type of gateway instrument for you before you transition onto a real instrument, hopefully within the brass family. I will pray for you. But sure, sign up.’

Well, well. The clarinet. It’s bad enough that I live with a pianist.

Could have be worse mind you, she could have has asked to learn a string instrument, so I guess I should count my blessings. Jesus, beginner violin sounds like a cat slowing dying and could be the real inspiration behind social distancing.

img_8218When the girls came home, excitement levels related to pending clarinet lessons were incredibly high. They’d managed to snatch the last two free positions, and lessons would start soon.

And that’s when I dropped a bombshell. ‘I CAN PLAY THE CLARINET’. Boom, anchors away, I let the cat out of the bag. ‘What are you talking about!?!?!?’, their little faces filled with delighted surprise and astonishment at yet another essential life skill their mother possessed. I explained the shocking news; indeed, both my sister and I played clarinet in our primary school band, prior to figuring out that the trumpet was one the loudest of all orchestral instruments and hence, corrected our wrong.

The rental clarinet arrived long before lessons started, and her friend would come over for ‘let’s practise putting together our clarinets and then marvel at the beauty of these woodwind creatures’ sessions. It was very cute.


Corona clarinet lessons

Lessons started and the love affair only deepened. A bit different to how I learnt, they have a music book that goes with a Spotify playlist with backing music, it’s rather effective. There was even a first concert just a few weeks later.

And when life couldn’t get any better, my sister sent her a clarinet in the mail from Sydney. From Aldi’s**. Bless her.

So, now I need to pin all my unfulfilled trumpet dreams on child #2 and #3, who are still young enough to brainwash. Grandpa has leant them his trumpet*** and their Trumpet for Beginners with associated Spotify playlist book, arrives next week.

Sorry, neighbours. We’ll all get through this together.

Honk, honk. More to come.


Me (left) around the same age, playing a real instrument: cornet in a brass band.

*morning/afternoon tea.

**like Swedish Lidl/Willys. They like to stock random ‘special offer’ items and people go crazy for them.

***no wonder I love that trumpet-owning man. The trumpet was a present for his 60th, he has good friends. We dusted it off and moved it from their attic, to our guest/music room.

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jane #

    I, too, have a clarinet player, and a flautist, and refused to let either learn the violin. We owned our instruments, which meant paying for lots of repairs, advanced mouthpieces, then the lessons were not free, exam costs, ferrying them to competitions, music schools in the holidays miles away, sitting through many, many, many, many concerts.. It was all worth it, though. Daughter supplemented her uni costs playing backing for live karaoke, son by writing music for gaming soundtracks. Do they play now? Not a peep.

    May 19, 2020
    • Oh, I had weekly private instrumental and music theory lessons for 10+ years, plus six years at university. A lot of ‘advanced mouthpieces’ and ferrying about for parents and fellow band member parents. Now I work as a writer 🤣 my poor (literally) parents.
      I of course, don’t mind what instruments they play. I’m sure they loved every minute of it, and helping to get through uni and producing music, is awesome!

      May 19, 2020
  2. At my house the clarinet was a gateway instrument for the bassoon. Thankfully, the sparkle of playing both instruments has now faded. It’s the end of 7th grade here, my daughter is no longer playing in the band moving forward, and we return the bassoon on Friday to the school. But the $700 clarinet we rented-to-own is ours to keep. I see a grandchild in my future who plays the $700 clarinet…

    May 20, 2020
    • Bassoon! ha! good it is getting returned. Alas, the clarinet will stay with you, for future generations to enjoy….

      May 21, 2020
  3. Samantha Allen #

    There’s hope yet….don’t forget that we started on clarinet too before the age of enlightenment. 😉

    May 20, 2020

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