x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Not hitting the right notes takes a lot of work, too

Given their love for anything that distrubs the peace, it's a wonder more teenagers don't devote more time to making their own music.

The wide-eyed boy slowly takes off his hat, wringing it tragically between his hands: "At last, one morning, I became - another's lovesick boy!" The audience, composed mainly of proud parents, smile fondly and go wild at the innocent-looking Casanova's rendition of When First My Old, Old Love I Knew, written by Gilbert and Sullivan. Our school held a concert called Rule Britannia a few days ago, celebrating the best of British music from pre-baroque to contemporary. It's delightful to see what wonderful performances teenagers can deliver if they take up music, keeping every listener spellbound and managing to make them forget their worries for an evening.

Music is certainly a large part of most teenagers' lives. We waste hours on Spotify on the pretence of doing some homework on the computer. Any parent will have sniffed about how the juddering drum beats emanating from their teenager's music system are going to make them deaf one day. Other parents would have wistfully replied that for all intents and purposes, their teenager might already be deaf; they yell themselves hoarse asking their youthful charges to come down for dinner before marching up to yank off headphones.

Given their love for anything that makes a noise or annoys everyone in the vicinity, it's a wonder more teenagers don't take up an instrument or singing. Being the source of your own cacophony is far more satisfying than simply switching on your speakers. Now you're learning time-management, doing a creative extracurricular and, at least in your mother's opinion, are no doubt going to become the next Joshua Bell.

If you have mean neighbours - mine are lovely people, by the way - the most efficient way to drive them crazy is to become a beginner violinist or French horn player. If they've been especially grumpy, practise the opening phrase of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony repeatedly, fortissimo, at midnight. If they've sent over a batch of freshly baked biscuits, lay down the bow for a break. It's Pavlovian conditioning - they'll learn to switch on the oven the moment the first crotchet crashes out.

I started playing the classical guitar years ago and would thoroughly recommend the learning curve. Through plenty of hard work, I gradually developed into a virtuoso in the art of inventing believable tales as to why I had forgotten to practise. These included medical appointments, the dog ate my music score, I thought I was too lowly a creature to even attempt such a great, divine masterpiece - Mauro Giuliani wouldn't have wanted me to lower his composition's standard. At least I taxed my brain to think of lots of different excuses to escape the hard work and callus-inducing technical exercises. See, music fosters the imagination even when you are being lazy.

Besides, there is nothing more exhilarating than a piece that draws you, in a whirlwind of richness and rippling strings, into the colourful world of Mozart, Bach or Chopin and after hours of slogging, transforms from pedantic to splendidly awe-inspiring.

 

The writer is a 17-year-old student in Dubai