Music Mondays - Completely Random Trip Down Memory Lane...

It's time for a trip down memory lane. 

When I was in high school, I had a teacher who was kind of a jack of all trades.  He taught music primarily, but he was also a social studies instructor and a psychology teacher.  The irony being, the guy was so energetic and weird that most of the students felt he was the last person who should be teaching psych.  Seriously - he would tell the class about his various cats, and would give people bonus marks if they drew pictures of cats on their papers.  If memory serves, he had a cat with half a head that he had rescued from an animal shelter, named something like Mewky. 

From ninth grade until twelfth grade, I think I had this teacher about seven times (three years for guitar, twice for social studies, and twice for psychology... I think).  So I knew him pretty well, and volunteered to help him out for extracurricular stuff.  We got along fairly well, despite the fact that he was terminally anal about handing in papers and I steadfastly believed in the art of "meh" during high school.  One girl in my guitar class got an "A" even though she could barely name all the strings on the instrument... whereas the kids that could actually play the instrument were getting D's because they wouldn't hand in their "practice logs" since we didn't want to bug our parents. 

A lot of what he said bugged me during high school, and came off half-cocked (for example, his statement to our psych class that people "way back then" lived healthier because they weren't exposed to all of this modern stuff - the Bible said people lived for thousands of years, and some mesopotamians lived for ten thousand years! and so on an so forth).  But one thing really, really bugged me. 

He asked our psychology class (a psychology class, not a music class, an anthropology class, or a socials class, where it would be more in context) what the first human musical instrument was.  And so the class listed off all of their guesses:  drums?  Nope.  Something like a flute?  Nope.  Maybe it was a bone that you banged on?  Nah.  Did they maybe bang the skulls of their dead family members together, in a very Black Sabbath-style fashion?  God no.  And on, and on, and on.

His answer was that the first human instrument was the human voice.  That humans were making music with their voices and bodies long before there was any external addition.  And of course, he's right - we were singing long before we ever touched a drum. 

But the voice is not an instrument.  It was, in essence, a trick question, and we in the class were made to feel stupid simply because he was approaching it with a loose terminology, and we were looking on it in a specific manner.

What got me mad was the fact that it was completely unrelated to the subject at hand, and that he was doing his turn at being Socrates or something and had this all-knowing smile on his face while we honestly tried to figure out his little riddle.  And the riddle itself was flawed - it'd be like me asking you what Michael Jordan's favourite food is, and then after you guessed a bazillion times, telling you Jordan's favourite food was Gatorade, as if that should be obvious. 

When I tried pointing this out to him in class, he just told me that yes, the voice was an instrument, and that he knew a thing or two about music, so I should just accept his point.  What that point was, I have no clue.  He never got around to it.  I think because his headless cat had just bought a new hat, or something.  (Did I mention that apparently, the cat spoke to him?) 

I have no idea why I've been thinking about all this lately.  Probably because I just sat there and didn't argue my point.  Were it to happen today, I'm sure I would have been all vocal, calling him all manner of idiot. 

I mean, it's pretty obvious the first musical instrument was the Banjo.


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