In random conversations lately, just twice this past week, that age old question was raised:
“So…what insturment did YOU play when you were a kid?”
Now, when you stop and think about it, that’s one of those questions that can truly define a person…if not who they are, at least who they were. If you played guitar, you thought you were emulating some rock god you’d recently discovered on this strange channel known as Much Music (even if you were really just using it as an excuse to dance around in your underwear. Well, let’s hope it was YOUR underwear). If you played drums, perhaps your only passion was to make some really loud noise and look cool doing it (and maybe impress a girl or boy in the process.) If you played piano, you were perhaps driven (by your mother, sitting primly in the driver seat) to be a serious musician of sorts, and to be taken very serious like. If you held a fiddle and bow, then perhaps you felt some mysterious pull….a connection to your traditional Celtic roots, passed down from generations and generations (or maybe you just liked the idea of the breezy comfort a kilt might provide). And if you chose the French Horn, then maybe you mistakenly saw it as an easy way to get some good passing grade in music class (because, let’s be honest, a D- is still better than the torturous sound THAT instrument can bring!)
But I didn’t play any of these things. Instead, I was a singer. Of sorts. And my instrument was my voice, and one that I took pretty seriously. And practiced often, driving along in the back of the family car on those long drives to Baddeck to visit my great aunt, and singing along at the top of my lungs, knowing Every Single Word that was played on the radio. And never fear….when we’d inevitably lose reception over Kelly’s Mountain, I’d just keep the tunes coming, uninterrupted, a capella. Now, I won’t pretend I had the raw talent to ever be a “professional” singer (trust me, not even close!), but, truth be told, during those early years, I was good enough and, gosh darn it, cute enough, to get featured in those painful school concert pageant fiascos that only the unconditional love of a mother could stand behind. And a father if he’s forced to go. One year, our choir from Jamieson Elementary was featured on the local “Christmas Daddies” telethon, and being small for my age and wearing glasses much bigger then my incredibly round head (they didn’t call me Charlie Brown for nothing!), with a stubborn cow lick that simply couldn’t be licked no matter how hard I tried, I spent three eternally long minutes in a continuous close up, with a large camera looming in my face and the cameramen barely stifling their laughter in the background as I sang, at the top of my lungs, in my most earnest and over the top way, my very own interpretation of “O Little Town of Bethlehem” (And let’s not even talk about my acting skills. I mean, who would’ve guessed the third wise men – not the first, not the second, but the third mind you – would ever take such a lead, starring, show-stopping role in the Christmas play that year? Yeah, I wouldn’t have guessed that either).