Not Instrumental in His Development

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The commentator recalls his childhood battles with musical instruments. Regardless of whether it was wind, brass, piano or percussion, practice did not make perfect.


Sadly, a love of music isn't always enough. Just ask commentator Odd Todd.


So the other night I went out for a couple drinks with a friend of mine and here was this three-piece band in the bar. They played like classical-type, guitar-type stuff. There was this one guy who played like lead guitar and a dude on rhythm guitar and one guy with that big stand-up bass thing. Anyway, watching these three guys play reminded me about how much I don't know how to play an instrument.

I started not learning how to play an instrument when I was about six years old. I took some piano lessons, maybe three in all, before the German piano teacher flagged me as being `unpiano' and declared to my mom in front of me...(speaking in German accent) the piano is not for Todd.

I remember hearing that and not even understanding what she was talking about, because when I was a kid I assumed everything was for me. But the piano was not. I--well, I never practiced once.

In the third grade, it was on to recorder. Everyone in the third grade was forced to try and learn recorder, playing "Greensleeves" or whatever. Some would be chosen to take part in some recorder recital down the road, which I'm sure was orally agonizing for parents. At least half the class would participate. I was not selected. All my friends were. But you know you're bad when you're flagged as sucking at recorder in the third grade.

Onto fifth grade. I picked up the trumpet. Trumpet always seemed cool to play, but it sort of hurt my cheeks and I really didn't have the finger coordination for it. I remember being on stage once during some band thing and actually just pretending to play and not blowing, just fingering. And also, the spit valve thing sort of grossed me out a little bit.

Down the line I dabbled in things like harmonica, a guitar, whatever, but no instrument ever really clicked. Sometimes I think maybe if the German lady forced me to practice and kept showing up, demanding I play, I'd be performing in some piano bar or at Carnegie Hall or wherever. But I doubt it. I think she was right. She knew what she was doing. (Speaking in German accent) The piano is not for Todd.

LYDEN: Todd Rosenberg is the author of "The Odd Todd Handbook."

That's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden.

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