It was so nice to have all that helpful feedback on the difficult musical instrument choice! I barely know the difference between a trumpet and a trombone (I have to say to myself, "slide ____" and see which word leaps into the gap; then I can picture the trombone, and know it isn't the trumpet), so practically all the information was new to me.
I answered some frequently-asked questions in the comment section, but then the comment section got kind of large and so here they are:
Q: What exactly makes reeds "disgusting"?
A: My mom, back when she played the clarinet, thought it was pretty gross to have to suck on the reed until it was saturated with spit, then screw it onto the mouthpiece and put the spit-soaked reed back in her mouth. But many of you didn't find this gross, and a few of you couldn't imagine what could possibly be gross about it, and I think that's a very good sign for reed instruments.
Q: Instruments with spit valves are way more disgusting than reeds! Way more!
A: Okay! I believe you! My mom didn't play any spit-valve instruments, so the "reeds are icky" opinion was stand-alone, not relative. I'm going on what I've got, here.
Q: You said no to drums because of the noise! You are wrong! They are actually the quietest! All instruments are loud! Let him play drums! THIS FACTORY UNFAIR TO DRUMS!!
A: I think there was more feedback on this than on anything else, even though I didn't say anything about drums being loud, or about why I was rejecting them. The actual reasons I rejected them were: (1) Rob has near-zero interest in playing them, and (2) I think one of the most enriching parts of learning a musical instrument is learning to read music. I asked him again about it, though, after reading all the appealing comments about what an easy/small/quiet instrument they can be to practice on, but he still says he's not interested.
Q: Flutes are for sissies. --Anonymous
A: Since I'd just said that my brother played flute for many years, this was kind of...tactless, yes? I do see the concern with "girl instruments" vs. "boy instruments" but I don't really LIKE it. If someone says very delicately that in their school the flutes were mostly played by girls, I hear the message loud and clear and am inclined to take it into consideration as a valuable point: I may think such divisions are ridiculous, but that doesn't mean I want to sacrifice my child on the alter of social change. When someone says "Flutes are for sissies," that makes me feel as if prejudices and gender stereotypes are ugly and stupid, and that the ridiculous ones should be beaten to pulps. By boys brandishing flutes, perhaps.
Q: Why not have him play [other instrument not on list]?
A: The seven instruments I listed are the only ones offered in the school program.
After several days of discussions, the decision is that he's going to take clarinet. He ranked it at the top of his list by a wide margin, and we thought his reasons for choosing it were good: he said he liked the sound of it best, and that he preferred the kind of instrument with a lot of keys where a certain combination of keys meant a certain note, rather than a "sliding" way of finding the notes (as with the trombone and with string instruments).
This is so strange for me! I tried piano and recorder in elementary school and experienced Epic Fail with both (no interest + no talent), and so I don't even know about practicing, or how to read music, or how to take the instrument apart and clean it, or how to suck on a reed. You can bet I'll be asking desperate questions in the future of all you ex band members.
Life-improving products, part 4 - (Continued from part 1, part 2, and part 3.) Stearns Youth Life Vest (photo from Amazon.com). I’d been too scared to take the kids to any body of water oth...