The banjo and Mister Rogers

Despite my lack of musical ability and deep musical knowledge, I have always loved stringed instruments and any great choral group. I spent years falling asleep to George Winston's piano, have never met a double bass I didn't love, and nearly fall to pieces when I hear Ode to Joy sung properly.

Tom's grandfather and also one of his first cousins were/are professional musicians, and we rather hoped some of that ability would make its presence known in our kids. From an early age, Jack seemed he very might well have gotten the gene. By four he'd asked for a piano, washboard, accordion, and recorder. At five, he pleaded to take violin lessons, and regularly wished to visit our local music store to sit with the guitars and banjos. 

Violin didn't last, but his interest in music has (he vetoed any choral involvement to my chagrin, however), and for the past eighteen months or so, he's taken saxophone lessons. Sometime during the past year, he added piano, and seems to love and have facility with both. 

One of the best surprises about the summer camp the boys went to was the strong musical tradition, including the space made for and celebration of current campers and counselors who play and sing. The farewell ceremony included not a few performances of all manner of size and instrument, all of which were moving.

Both kids really enjoyed that aspect of their summer experience, and Jack came home with a serious desire to take up the banjo. Ol's counselor played and was such a wonderful, kind inspiration and friend to both boys, so I imagine that's where this fire was sparked. I arranged for a trial lesson and told J he had to choose between sax and banjo as three instruments was one too many for now. 

I think he's a string kid at heart because it was ultimately no decision at all, and he has not stopped strumming his new beauty (for which he is paying a full quarter!) since it came home. The banjo is so cool, and I am just loving this new soundtrack. 


I simply must beseech you to see Won't You Be My Neighbor? if you haven't already. A documentary about Mister Rogers, it is so very moving and dear. The kids and I saw it today (they loved it too), and I cried four times. I didn't clearly recall watching the show as a child, but seeing King Friday XIII and Daniel Striped Tiger and Lady Elaine brought back such clear images of them from my past. I imagine Fred Rogers would be so dismayed by the state of our country today, so sad at the devolution of general kindness and conversation and hearing and listening. It's a really fine film. I hope you see it.