Confessions of the Musically Challenged

Hi, my name is Diana and I’m musically challenged.

Isn’t that a lovely euphamism for “I suck at music”? How about “pitch deprived”? Or, “note ignorant”?

Forget the euphamisms. I suck at music. It is a skill I wished I had sometimes. I’m surrounded by people who know music. They can read music. The running joke in my family is that musical talent skipped my generation. Well, it definitely skipped me.

Diana Beebe's Blog

Growing up, I fiddled around on the old piano that we had but didn’t take lessons. My brother taught me how to play the basics of “Chopsticks” while he played the more complicated parts around me.

In middle school, music was a requirement. I picked choir, because I was terrified of failing at playing an instrument. I had a decent voice back then, so it was an easy choice. The choir director had quite an…er…interesting group of kids who had various levels of interest and talent. She taught us the notes on the treble and bass clefs, but I never learned to read them. (If you take just the notes in the spaces of the treble clef, they spell FACE. Yep, that’s what I remember.) Still today, if you played a note and asked me what it was, I’d have no clue.

I knew to sing a higher note if the note on the page went up. If I didn’t know the song already, then I didn’t really know what note to sing next. I felt sorry for Mrs. Petrash at the UIL sight reading competition. We sounded like a cacophony of wounded animals.

The Armadillo can play the piano. She already understands some musical theory. She gets what major and minor mean. I have NO clue. She heard her grandmother practicing piano (they take lessons together) and corrected her, “Not in minor.”

When she got a new piano music book, she was so excited. Here’s our conversation:

The Armadillo: “This book has ‘Blow the Man Down.’ What’s that?”

Me: A pirate song.

The Armadillo: “Cool. Then it should be in minor. You know, ’cause pirates are usually bad guys.”

Me:  *blink blink*

The Armadillo: “Let me read you the notes for ‘Hot Cross Buns.’ E D C…”

Me: *Laughs* “I don’t know what that means.”

The Armadillo: *blink blink* “Didn’t you ever play an instrument? I thought you played a horn. How can you not read music?”

Dynasty II French Horn Bugle

Dynasty II French Horn Bugle

It’s true that in high school I played a French Horn bugle. It is what it sounds like. A bugle built to sound like a French Horn. It resembles a marching French Horn, but it’s a bugle. I was pretty good at playing it, too. I loved it, actually, for a few reasons. It wasn’t a soprano or tenor bugle (those killed my lips), and there were only two of us who played it in the entire corps. Also, I didn’t have to read music to be successful. Most of us in my high school drum and bugle corps learned by ear and memorization. Remember my choir music-reading experience? Yeah, it’s a good thing no one made us do that. If someone was really bad (because they didn’t practice, maybe), then they faked it on the field (not pointing any fingers at my sister, or anything. 😉 )

Music is one area where I’m happy to let my husband help our daughters when they have a question about music or what they are practicing. They can ask me if they want, but all they’ll get is…

*blink blink*

What musical skills or talents do you have–or wish you have?  I’d love to hear about it!

If you want to vote on which comic book cover Armadillo picked, go here. I’ll post the results and the answer this week!

12 thoughts on “Confessions of the Musically Challenged

  1. Nicole Grabner

    Diana, I really wish that I could play the piano. My husband has been playing the guitar for over thirteen years – he is amazing! (And considering becoming a luthier when he retires from the military.) I always get jealous when I watch ‘The Voice’ or some other show where people can sing; I guess I wish I could sing too! 🙂 I just don’t have the time to create that talent. I’m hoping that my daughter will pick up on the guitar with my husband’s instruction. She already plays better than me. 🙂

    1. Diana Beebe Post author

      I understand what you mean! My little one would tell me not to sing when she was a toddler. Yikes!

      That’s great that your husband can teach your daughter how to play. You can sit back and enjoy the music. You should take comfort that you have your own talents–writing, for example. 🙂

  2. Julie Glover

    I’m so frustrated with myself for quitting piano lessons when I was young. Now I really wish I could play. A keyboard even sits in my writing office, just gathering dust and taunting me.

    I do read music, though. Played flute in high school. And I still sing…whenever anyone lets me. 😉

    1. Diana Beebe Post author

      It’s never too late to take lessons, especially since you have a music foundation. My mom-in-law started taking lessons when my daughter did. 🙂

  3. Angela Wallace

    I played the clarinet in grade school, and even tried to teach myself a little piano based on sheet music, but I certainly can’t read it now! Or play, for that matter, lol. I don’t mind the sound of my voice when I’m singing to myself, but you won’t ever catch me on Idol. 😛

    1. Diana Beebe Post author

      The clarinet has a nice tone! My nephew plays it. Too intimidating for me, but not as much as American Idol. LOL. So, no public singing for you… 😀


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