Sunday, October 21, 2012

Melissa's Fan Club

Last Monday evening during my daily drive home from work, I made a slight detour so that I could stop into the lobby of the local School of Music.  Seems during my 15-year old daughter Melissa's lesson the previous Friday, she had packed away her guitar, and left her capo behind.

Now, I will tell you, one year ago, if you had asked me to describe the function of a "capo", I might have thought about explaining how to cook a type of poultry. (No Lisa, that's a capon.)  However, today I can proudly tell you that a capo is some kind of contraption that Melissa puts on her guitar to give it a different sound.  Oh alright, if you insist on knowing the actual definition, according to Wikipedia, a capo is a device used on the neck of a stringed instrument to shorten the playable length of the strings, hence raising the pitch. (Although I liked my explanation better).

Since my daughter embraced the guitar a couple of years ago, I am slowly but surely finding a cure for my musical illiteracy.  I now understand the difference between regular chords and bar chords (Something to do with where you place your fingers...I think).  Plus, I can honestly differentiate between finger picking and strumming.

Melissa's incredible musical talent obviously passed to her through the Y chromosome.   During my husband Bob's teen years, he and his buddies formed the infamous garage band they creatively dubbed, "Orange Ash".  Sadly, after touring the junior high school dance circuit, the members of "Orange Ash" went their separate ways.  However, the love of music stayed with Bob, and he passed that love onto Melissa.

In addition to Bob's influence, Melissa's evolution into a guitar-player extraordinaire began at the onset of 5th grade, when she decided to join the school band, for the logical reason that all of her friends were doing it.  Her instrument of choice - the flute -  a decision made thanks to her sister Jessica, who had also dabbled with that reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening. (Aren't you impressed that I knew that?)  (Oh ok, I admit, I looked it up on Wikipedia again.)

Playing the flute taught Melissa the basics about reading music and performing.  Bob, motivated by her new found passion, dusted the cobwebs off his 30-year old guitar and placed the instrument in her waiting hands.  Now the cobwebs began to form on the flute, as Melissa traded in the wind instrument for the strings, and eagerly looked forward to Bob's daily instructions on where to place her fingers on the guitar, how to play chords, and eventually, how to perform a handful of Beatles songs.  (If you are learning to play an instrument in the Weinstein household - playing the Beatles is a prerequisite to anything else.)  She supplemented Bob's instruction with online lessons, courtesy of some very cool, self-directed learning websites.

As Melissa's natural skill for guitar continued to blossom, she also honed her talents as an alto vocalists.  Middle school chorus concerts helped her prepare for a successful audition for the All South Jersey Chorus.  Now, a veritable expert both as a singer and guitarist, the only thing left to do...combine those two musical skills.

Every Friday night for the past year, Melissa fine tuned her craft thanks to private instruction at the School of Music.  Still, for Melissa, playing and singing at the same time seemed like an out of reach goal.   Despite her beautiful rendition of Green Day's "Times of Your Life" performed in the safety and privacy of our living room, she became a bundle of nerves when asked to actually sing and play that song at the same time in public.

Enter the now infamous...."Monday Night Band".

Why the catchy name, you ask?

Quite simply, they rehearse at the School of Music on Monday nights.

During the summer, the owner of the School Of Music, looking to replace two teenage boys who had dared to quit the band in favor of going away to college, approached Melissa about becoming the newest member of the "Monday Night Band".  The instructor, Dave, had given up hope of ever having his all boy band perform hits from Pat Benetar, Stevie Nicks, or Taylor Swift.  But wait, a teenage girl wanted to join the band!!!  And she can sing!!!  Hallelujah!  A match made in heaven!

At first, Melissa seemed a bit hesitant about becoming an actual band member.  She felt a bit awkward and shy, and convinced herself that the other members had to be, by far, much better musicians.  I walked her down the hall to her first rehearsal, where she arrived 10 minutes early.  Like any good teenager, she promptly shooed me away, rather than risk the embarrassment of having the all male band members see her there with her mother.

Following the hour-long rehearsal, Bob and I anxiously awaited her reaction.  The larger than life smile that lit up her face told us all we needed to know.  Our kid was hooked!

For six weeks, the "Monday Night Band" dutifully practiced together, getting to know one another's style, and preparing to perform in a local street festival.   Bob and I became accustomed to the sound of the guitar as pleasant background noise throughout the house, as Melissa practiced 'till her fingers burned.

As the day of the concert drew nearer, only one question still remained.....which members of Melissa's circle of friends would find the time to cheer her on.  She had been talking about the performance for days, and, to her dismay, received a less than enthusiastic response from the teenage boys and girls who roam the halls of high school with her each day.  Some had other plans, family functions, prior commitments, etc.  A dark cloud of disappointment threatened to ruin my baby girl's positive spirit.  Desperate times called for desperate measures!

I put on my "Super Sleuth Spy Hat" and emailed the moms!  They all agreed to bring their kids to the designated time and place....and to keep it a surprise.  In the meantime, Melissa's friends, knowing full well that they would be attending her show, still remained evasive when asked if they were coming!

Autumn sunshine in all its glory greeted us on the morning of the concert.  A picture perfect day for an outdoor show!  As Melissa took to the stage, she looked out to see her mom and dad, her Aunt Bev and Uncle Rick, and a large group of teenage boys and girls screaming,

"We love you Melissa!"

She looked out at her friends, smiled, winked, and, channeling all of the rock stars who came before her, spoke into the microphone and said, quite simply, "I love you too!"

Then, my child sang and played the guitar as she performed the world's best version of Taylor Swift's "Picture to Burn"....EVER!  (Not that I am biased).

Proud doesn't even begin to describe my feelings in that moment, but another emotion also took hold.  Looking at this group of teenage boys and girls who had come out to show their support, I felt truly touched, deep within my heart.

Melissa's fan club made the day!

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  1. Always go for the moms when you need something done!
    Melissa rocked! I was so impressed with her poise & focus, especially with random guys dancing by themselves, her friends waving & yelling - she never missed a beat. Great job to all 3 of you; the parents & the actual talent.

  2. Awww, that's really great! I bet it was fun and I wish I could have been there to watch her perform. I bet watching you watch her would have been just as much fun! You are a great mom.

  3. Ohhhh, what a fun day! I'm a musician's mom too. The talent skipped two generations -- from my grandma to my son, who now studies piano performance in college! I laughed hysterically at your definitions. I understand -- I can now hear the difference between major and minor chords. I know the difference between scales and arpeggios, and I can recognize Mozart, Beethoven and Handl. They all sounded the same to me just a few short years ago. Music is the language of the heart. Enjoy your home filled with that joyful noise.

    1. You are much, much more in the know about music than I am! I agree, music is the language of the heart. It makes my daughter so happy - I just love hearing her play!

  4. Oh please please do encourage and support her even more with her passion for playing the guitar! I am forever thankful to my Mom who let me play the piano and guitar, even paid for a bunch of classes that I did not finish (because I learned on my own that I can do it by myself and I don't need to 'read' notes -- I play by ear!), and got me everything that I need to play music!

    Glad you are on board with this!

    1. Thanks Roxi - music gives children such confidence! I am always so upset that the first thing they want to cut in schools is music education.

  5. My husband plays the guitar, so I had to learn what the capo was. But we have to keep things locked down so the kids don't get into them.

    Sounds like you are one proud mama and that your daughter is doing something she truly loves.

  6. What a great story and tribute to your daughter, the rock star. You must be so proud! :)