So last night I drove Seth over to the Old Town School of Folk Music to buy him a quarter guitar for classes that begin Saturday morning.
During our drive over, we were listening to Ralph’s World’s rendition of Itsy Bitsy Spider:
Ralph: What’s that sound? Sounds tiny!
Everybody go “shhhh” for the baby!
Ralph: Well, peering out from under a leaf in the backyard
So small you could barely see her
Wearing a size XXXXXXXXXX-small Old Town School of Folk Music T-shirt
Doh! He worked there for years. (By the way, this blogger deserves thanks for putting us onto Ralph.)
The first thing I noticed walking into the school is that this place is authentic. No commercialization here. It is about as quirky a place you will ever see:
- A grungy man with wild hair quietly plucking tunes from his battered old guitar.
- A sharply-dressed young woman looking fiercely at the neck of her guitar then looking annoyed at passers-by.
- A young Asian man zipping through a song on his violin in a practice room with the door flung wide open.
- Some sort of modern dance troupe bounces around on a hardwood floor.
- A well-worn concert hall.
- A coffee/espresso/snack bar inside the school. It looks like one of those coffee bars on wheels that someone shoved into an alcove.
- A stiff, haughty-looking woman ordering violin strings for her 8-year-old Suzuki prodigy. I had the distinct impression she held her breath whenever she entered the building.
But make no mistake, there is nothing pretentious about Old Town. No matter how the musicians were dressed or how odd they behaved, it is clear that everyone at the school has a common mission: music.
As I absorbed the ambiance, a clerk at the in-house Different Strummer store, found a nice quarter-guitar for Seth. The clerk used his long, supple fingers, which seemed perfect for guitars or pianos or surgery, to tune Seth’s new object of affection.
Oddly, the price for the Chinese-made “Old Town School of Folk Music” guitar and backpack case was less than $90. It may be the first time in my life where the “school store” doesn’t gouge its customers.
As we walked back to the car, dozens of adults rushed around with larger versions of Seth’s backpack guitar. Clearly, I was the odd person out.
And while I never learned a musical instrument myself, I believe it will enhance any child’s life and bring happiness to their spirit. I know it will for Seth.