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I Let My Child Take Flute Lessons: What Was I Thinking?

We want our kids to learn and try new things, but at what cost to our eardrums?


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Last spring, when the paperwork came home for my child to pick an instrument to join band or orchestra (an option for fourth and fifth graders in my school), it seemed like such a great idea. After all, I learned to play piano and that ability to read music and at least play chopsticks is something I’ve carried with me throughout my adult life.

And I thought of the holiday concert, with those smiling little faces and the adorable off-key-but-determined playing, and I swelled with advance pride. Plus, she was grinning from ear-to-ear and pretty much begging.

We weighed the pros and cons of a variety of instruments: The cello (her first choice) was too enormous to fit in my VW Beetle. And all of the percussion instruments were immediately vetoed. (Because, percussion.) I thought I was pretty smart to dodge the  drum bullet, and after consulting many my-kids-play-instruments parents, we settled on the flute.

She was ecstatic when we went to the music store to pick up her rental. And she proudly came home after the first week of lessons at school to warble her way through "Hot Cross Buns." It was so cute. And I clapped like a proud mom should.

But then she started practicing at home. And I got desperate texts from her stepmom asking what were we thinking. I don't know. As she practiced for close to an hour the other night, playing the first three lines of "Jingle Bells" over and over again. I ran and hid in my room. It wasn’t my finest moment. But the walls at least provided some protection against ear-splitting flute screeches . Even the cat came and hid with me. He also tried unsuccessfully to bat it out of her hands a few times. (I might have given him some extra treats that night.)

And I know this is the process. I know she has to learn somehow, but my eardrums are suffering and I'm torn between being the good supportive mom who sits and listens and smiles, and the bad mom who hides in the bedroom closet when it gets to be too much.

Mostly, I feel the urge to call and apologize to my parents. I’m sure that my early attempts at piano prowess weren't any better. At one point I taught myself how to play AND SING Poison's "Every Rose Has Its Thorn." I'm sure that was an awesome period for my mom and dad.

More amazingly, they somehow they managed to survive this kind of torture, without the benefit of the noise cancelling headphones I just ordered from Amazon.

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