(Be forewarned. Lots of music. Lots of books. And who knows what else. Maybe a hunt?)

(On this blog, I mean.)

(Not necessarily on this post.)

So my first contact with the violin came through my older brother. He played the violin for quite a while, and given that he is 13 years older than me, I pretty much heard him play my whole life. And he practiced and was good. He even had his own violin that he purchased with his own money. I loved that violin, but that's a different post entirely.

(Perhaps I should mention here that I come from a large family. I'm the 8th of 9 children. 5 boys. 4 girls.)

In when my older brother was in high school, his high school orchestra teacher's name was Mr. Treebeard. (Okay, not really, but he's a good character, don't you think?) When my brother was in high school the orchestra was good. The kind of orchestra that would regularly take state kind of good. And he was good in that orchestra. Mr. Treebeard also played in a bluegrass group on the side, and at some point we stared going to his performances.

At everyone of those performances, he would perform "The Devil Went Down to Georgia"(TDWDG). He would bring the house down every time. I would clap and watch in excitement. He was so very good, at least I thought then. (I'm not so sure now. I haven't seen him perform for a very long time to have any idea of how good he really is.) I loved watching him perform with his band and when he got to TDWDG I was so excited.

When I was about 7 I started taking violin lessons. I started with Suzuki, which I remember hating. I never got beyond about 1/2 way through book two. I had a couple of different teachers. In 5th grade, my life became all about Mr. Treebeard. He was still at the high school and amongst other things, he taught a beginning orchestra class for the 5th grade students. I vaguely remember going down stairs to the basement of our elementary school once or twice a week for beginning orchestra. I was bored. I already knew all of what he was teaching, but I wasn't about to go back to regular class. That would have been worse. I was probably a bit of a know-it-all snot. (Me=Hermione) But we got through that year and I got all excited about 6th grade.

6th grade was in our middle school and 6th grade was an extraordinarily difficult year for me. My best friend of years and I separated and it took me to the end of the year to find friends to replace her, but I digress. But I ruled the roost in orchestra. I wasn't first chair or anything, but I certainly knew more than everyone else, and unfortunately, I probably let them know it. In the intervening years, Mr. Treebeards orchestra had gone down hill. They weren't making state any more, not even close. Mr. Treebeard and I got along alright, until April Fool's Day.

My family had a long standing tradition, on April Fool's Day, to play some kind of practical joke. Usually my mom would get her artist chalk and draw the most horrible looking bruise you could imagine around my eye and then I'd go to school and regale people with some story about crashing on my bike or something like that. Usually I could fool a fair number of people. This year I decided on something a little different. I wrapped my arm and pretended I had sprained it badly on something and couldn't do any class work. Most of my teachers figured out I was just April Fooling and made me do my work anyway. Not so Mr. Treebeard. He totally fell for it and excused me to the library for the class period. Being the extremely idiotic 6th grader I was, I totally took him up on it and had a lovely time reading in the library--mistake #1.

The next day, I wandered in to class with my arm free of bandages and ready to play. He asked who needed to be excused. (Did I mention that there was another boy who had actually broken his arm at the time who had to be excused?) The one boy with the broken arm raised his hand and left. Then Mr. Treebeard looked around and asked who else had to leave, because he remembered that there were two the day before. I raised my hand and explained that it was me, and that I had just been pulling an April Fool's prank--mistake #2.

He lost it. He kicked me out of class. I went to the office and called my mom--I can't remember if he told me to or not--but I was distraught. It was just a silly prank to me. I still, to this day, have no idea why he got so angry. I think this all happened on a Thursday and a Friday. I stayed in the office during that period--probably bawling. Then went on to the rest of my classes, feeling truly horrible the whole time.

I went back to orchestra on Monday, a chastened, but still idiotic 6th grader. I finished out the year in grand style and that summer, Mr. Treebeard retired. End of story.

I thought. . .

A few months later my family and I were taking our weekly Sunday walk. We would always walk along the canal road and if the canal was dry, some of us kids would walk in the canal while most of the adults walked above. Sometimes, it was the only thing that made those walks bearable for me. I hated walking. I liked to read. But you may have noticed that already.

I was happily minding my own world, when someone said my name, and asked what had happened with Mr. Treebeard. They were talking to my mom, so I did what any self-respecting 6th year old would do, I slowed down a bit and listened in. As they talked, I felt some horrible feeling come over me, some combination of embarrassment and humiliation and irritation. Here is what I found out.

That day after April Fool's day, after I sat in the office crying and went off to class, Mr. Treebeard called my mom during lunch. He asked her to never have me come back to class. He did not ever want me to go orchestra again. My mom, knowing that he was about to retire and was a tired old man, didn't tell me. She just let me go back to orchestra on Monday. I think she assumed that he would forget once he calmed down. He never called her back. He never said a word. And I did not know until months later that he had actually kicked me out of his class.

I still think about the gall of my mother in doing this, and I don't know whether to laugh about her uncanny ability to read this situation, or be embarrassed that she basically just ignored him.
Oh wait, I know exactly how to react. I still find it funny. I got kicked out of a class, my mother never told me, and the teacher never said another word.


I still love "The Devil Went Down to Georgia". Did you notice?
Labels: edit post
2 Responses
  1. Kimberly Says:


    I bet she never told you because otherwise you wouldn't have had the gumption possibly to go back. What a hoot!

  2. charrette Says:

    Hahaha! I was Hermione in school too.

    And regrettably, my oldest son got kicked out of a nationally ranked high school band program for a similar misunderstanding. I LOVE that your mom never told you -- Smart woman.