I made a Momma cry
by Chris Quinlan 24th March 2014

I Made a Momma Cry

I went to a wonderful 21st birthday party on Friday.

It was the party of a student who I have been teaching since he was nine years old, I took over when our mutual teacher Harold Ripper passed away in 2002, Harold and I received a mention in the speech, I was proud, it doesnt happen often.

I told Mum that she headed up one of four types of families in the experience I have had since starting to teach in 1978.

Type One: A great kid with a great family but the interest for music is up against playstation and footy, after a year or three, the cost of the lessons is weighed up against the progress of dwindling practice and a decision is made that the money is better spent elsewhere, like Playstation 4. The drum kit ends up on Ebay.

Type Two: A great set of parents with a student who thinks that the drum lesson is an extension of school and therefore treats the 30 minutes as if itís lunchtime in bogan-ville. Stupid little excuses not to practice with the parents shaking in anger in my open plan studio. Whilst teaching a 12/8 blues beat, ask them to recite their 3 times tables, Mum is horrified to see their son still using their fingers at 15. The drum kit is ceremoniously burned at the next family BBQ.

Type Three: A student who hesitantly rings up for lessons and after a few months of quiet intent finds the instrument a way of coming out of his or her shell. He and She start to smile again. They start to find a way to rise above the constant barrage of shit hanging and belittlement at home and at school. However, once the family finds out that the lessons are providing a voice for their independance see the lessons as the enemy. A shaking of hands and best of luck.

Type Four: A great little student who soaks everything up like a sponge. A great little family who join in with jams and playalongs, everyone loves and laughs. The student plays through from the Grade One book right through to Grade Eight which is of University Standard, if he or she tried, they could have a crack for Melbourne University and any Zappa type polyrhythmic ensemble. Suprisingly, as rare as hens teeth.

Meanwhile, back to the party, Mum is upset that her sons 21st speeches turned into a sort of roast with all sorts of embarrasing details of his overseas trip away. As they say, what happens on a footy trip stays on the footy trip. An unsaid bloke rule broken.

Shes not happy and says so.

I tell Mum she has a type four family. Mum teaches Autistic students for a living. I tell her how rare type four families are. I tell her that whilst I have some experience teaching autistic children, I cannot aspire to what she has been able to and continues to do.

The most challenging type of teaching and at the same time bringing up such a beautiful family.

She sits by herself with an empty glass and I say in true Bowie style Lets Dance!

It amazes me to this day that so many people are so starved of being told who they really are


So I made a Momma cry ....

We smiled, danced then she took her family home in a taxi, and I walked the streets of Melbourne until the first train home.

Chris Quinlan f.dip.a is a musician, drum and guitar teacher, and producer of Melbourne Musos - The Drum TV Show and author of the MMDC Drumset examination syllabus used throughout Australia, New Zealand and South-East Asia. He has written for Beat, Mixdown and Drummer Magazines. He was nominated for the Australian of the Year awards in 2013.