I get all sorts of credit for these sorts of things but I don’t deserve it. Laissez faire. To let to do. Forget economics, it’s education that needs it. If you let them, they will do it. But one does guide. Show. Help. Encourage.
My neighbor is a very good teacher. He wrote a book about education. I’ve read it several times now, because he gave me a big box of draft copies, hundreds and hundreds of foolscap pages. He didn’t give them to me to read; I crumble them up and start fires with them — but I read the pages as I go. An old habit. He would tell the kids to write whatever they would and could, and he’d edit their work, suggestions, really, kindly offered, and give them back and they’d have at it again. Not much of the kids’ work was very good, but it was all a lot better at the end than at the beginning. That’s teaching.
The Heir painstakingly taught himself to sing and play, and assembled some local friends and got them a gig in the park last year. One kid didn’t show up, so the Heir had to sing all the songs, but they made plenty of noise for just three guys. The audience made them play everything twice. They were in all the local papers. Then the other kids got together without the Heir and decided they didn’t want to play the songs my son wanted to play. They wanted to play parts of Aerosmith songs in their mother’s basement instead. That was the end of that.
So the heir assembled some other friends, and painstakingly taught them how to play the songs. They didn’t know how to play — or even own — their own instruments. Eventually they had a gig at the recreation center in a neighboring town. They did great, drew a little crowd, made a little money, and were noticed, and so were offered a chance to play in the the high school gym for a charity event. The Heir sang all the songs, and supplied all the equipment, such as it it. They were in all the local papers again. They were offered a job at the big fireworks show downtown on July 4th.
Then the bass player showed up and said he was going to play the guitar instead. He didn’t know how to play the guitar, but the Heir could show him, surely. By July. He’d got to talking to his friends and the drummer that played parts of Aerosmith songs was going to re-join.
But we have a drummer, the Heir says because he is loyal.
Well, the drummer doesn’t want to play the drums anymore; I asked him, and he doesn’t own any, anyway, and he’s going to play the keyboard instead. And my other friend is going to play the keyboard and sing, too. Between the two of them, they can probably play enough keyboard to sound like something. He doesn’t really sing, but how hard can it be, really? I’ve also invited the guy that didn’t show up for the first gig in the park to be a singer, too, and all of them together can sing parts of an Aerosmith song well enough. I guess. They never tried. And the bass player from the first band that never played again even once wants to be in this one now. Anyway, we don’t want to play those songs you like. You know, the ones the audience wants to hear.
But we have a job in a few months people are relying on us, the Heir says. We need to practice with the three of us, as hard as we can, or we’ll never be able to play for two hours in July.
But this is a democracy says the bass player.(er… former bass player, current guitar owner) Just because you sing all the songs and we practice at your house, and you teach us all the parts on all the instruments, and we use your equipment and your father brings it all to the job in his truck and your mother feeds us doesn’t mean you’re in charge. We voted. If you don’t like it, you’re out.
The Spare Heir is barely nine, and has been playing the drums for a few months now. I know Time magazine says he should still be breastfeeding, but we decided to let him play the drums instead. He said: I will play the drums with you, my brother.
Children get an education whether they know it’s an education or not. All these kids are learning lessons about all sorts of things, most only tangentially related to the music they think they’re learning. I used to work, for hard money, sometimes with and for very hard people, in the music business, but I could never have dreamed up this very useful curriculum in what the music business is like. Laissez faire.
The Heir is still friends with his friends, of course. There was no malice in any of it. The others never got together, even once, but the bass player with the borrowed bass said the drummer bought a third bass drum. Which is nice.