This week, gardener and writer Debbie Webber discovers what happens when the children suddenly take an interest in practising their instruments.
You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink. And apparently you can't make a child practise their musical instrument, eat their greens or pick up wet towels from the bathroom floor either.
Well, you can. If you ask, nag, shout and scream. Then stamp your feet for good measure. Or you can bribe and threaten. But it doesn't make for a harmonious home life. Some would call this settling for a quiet home life but really, if you're after one of those then perhaps you shouldn't be having children, or certainly not more than one.
So I pick my battles, for the sake of my sanity and theirs. I pay the music tuition fees, I remind them to practise, I even run the blasted instruments into school when they've forgotten them and I watch as those instruments get covered in dust at home.What I didn't think about doing was to move the piano. Yes, who knew this would be the key to unleashing their hitherto unknown desire to practice merrily away?
Obviously I didn't move it on my own but I'm taking full credit for the idea. It now resides, quite nicely I have to say, in the family room. Its lid is always open and everyone, even those who are tone deaf, can't resist a quick tinkle.
For some reason this has led on to flute and clarinet practice. It is lovely, listening to songs you recognise drift down through the floorboards, even if it is Old MacDonald's Farm.
Sometimes we'll even have one person on the piano and one upstairs playing away. I know this because my desk is also in the family room, which I'm beginning to see was perhaps not quite so well thought out as the piano moving.
Added to the mix is always some pop music blaring out of the kitchen or the sitting room and, well, you have quite a stew of music bubbling away.
A friend who rang the other day said, "Goodness, is everything ok, I can't hear any chords in the background?" which was probably her way of saying, "Thank goodness, I can actually hear what you're saying".
The funny thing is they are currently no longer having piano lessons but I can see with this new found enthusiasm I'm going to have to seize the day and find a suitable teacher pronto.
Until that happens I'm going to sit at my desk with my iPod discreetly playing some music of my choice, I think that's the only way I'll ever get to hear some unless I can buy the children some Damien Rice sheet music....
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