drum lessons

sticksWE LIVE IN VILJANDI,  a small town in the south of Estonia. Certainly, you have heard of this place. We means me, Justin, a writer or journalist, and daughter Anna, who is 10 years old and goes to school, at the moment attending the fourth grade.

–  “Why do you live in Viljandi?” People ask. “The capital is bigger, greater, richer, better!”

Maybe so, but children in Viljandi enjoy a lot of freedom. They go to school on their own in the morning, return home the same way, and then head onward to some after-school activity. They go on foot to sports and activities all over town. This is the luxury of living in a small town. Cars and trams aren’t necessary. This is how their weeks are booked.

Is our daughter a drummer or a guitarist?

When the school year began in the fall, I told Anna that she had to pick a musical instrument to study. Actually, she started to take violin lessons in the first grade when we lived in New York, but didn’t continue. There were so many options now. I offered her the stereotypical “girl” instruments. Would she like to play the flute? Clarinet? Piano maybe? Or the violin again? No, no, no! Then I found out that the Viljandi Hobby School was offering both guitar and drum lessons. She had to decide on one of these.

Honestly, I thought that drums would be a cooler choice. I play guitar and bass guitar and I know how complicated it can be. Drums are not easy, but it seemed like a better fit for Anna. Yet she had to try. That was the first step. She was put in a group with two other girls. Often people think that it’s better if the boys are with the boys and the girls learn alongside other girls. Anna didn’t notice this at all though, because to her the drums were far more important. She enjoyed playing right away and only speaks highly of her teacher Kevin Lilleleht. When I was a child, it was my greatest wish to play the drums! Ringo Starr was my favorite.

I remember how I begged by parents to take me to his concert. It was August 1989. We were standing in line at the concert when someone asked my mother and father:

– “You wanted to introduce your son to the music of our youth, eh?” And my parents answered “No, he dragged us here to hear Ringo play. It was him not us!” they said.

Do parents fulfill their own childhood dreams vicariously through their children?

I also remember how I begged my mother to buy me a drum kit, but it didn’t happen. Too noisy! The neighbors would definitely complain! Sad. But when Anna started to play, I decided that if she really wanted, I would buy her a kit. Let the neighbors enjoy the music! Now Anna comes home from drum lessons and even has homework. She has to listen to songs by the Beatles, Doors, and Green Day.

– “It’s so hard to tell which songs are the Beatles and which ones are the Doors,” she complains.

Recently there was an exam in the hobby school. The teacher played the students songs and they had to say who the artists were.

– “I thought that ‘Hey Jude’ was the Doors, but I was wrong!”

She really likes Green Day. Now, when she showers, one can hear her singing “Basket Case.” Smash Mouth is another favorite, because Smash Mouth’s song “All Star” was in Shrek. She has even learned how to play this song. She has such funny questions:

– “Is Green Day’s singer Billie Joe Armstrong related to that astronaut, Neil Armstrong?”

– “I’m not sure,” I replied.

– “What does Billie Joe Armstrong look like today?”

We decided to search for him on Google. Apparently he looks the same as he always has. Nothing has changed.

– “He’s only a few years older than me,” I told Anna. Anna looked me over.

– “Actually,” she said, “he looks a lot younger than you, Daddy.”

This post first appeared in Estonian on the Parim Aeg family blog.

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