Wednesday, August 01, 2007

the questionable foundations of my musicianship

Before I started learning piano and long before I started taking voice lessons, my very first instrumental tuition came in 1st grade.

The instrument they made us play might well have been some kind of hold-over torture device from the Middle Ages. It was one-stringed parent killer known as the Monolin, named such because it was a violin with only one string. Now, the string of a monolin was made of steel like a guitar string, but never changed as far as I remember no matter how dead the think got. And disturbingly, the thing even looked like a medieval crossbow:


That's the only photo I can find of one. It's from a scanned ad sitting in some online educational resource directory. This dirty lie of an ad is all about how it's "impossible to play the wrong string on a Monolin!" Unfortunately, while its only string was indeed unavoidable, so was the chance of making a horrific noise with that thing. Even 26 years on, I can still remember the sound of this beast. It was like trying to orchestrate for nails on a chalk board. Imagine the sound of trying to play a fatal car crash with a violin bow. That's a monolin.

Not to mention, that was when only one of those monstrosities was playing at a time. At the end of the tuition, we had a concert in which our parents were subjected to the sound of 40 monolins scraping out some tragic mockery of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" at the same time. How our parents survived, I have no idea.

And to be quite honest, I think our elementary school music teachers honestly hated our parents, because the next year they made us learn and then give a 40-instrument strong performance of the Flutophone:


The Flutophone is like a recorder, but worse and with a more emasculating name. Not to mention, it has translucent hot pink detailing which if I remember correctly, was very easy to break, rendering your flutophone useless. I must have gone through 4 or 5 flutophones in the course of the year.

With the flutophone and the monolin as my introduction to music, it's a wonder why I ever decided I was still interested in learning an instrument.


Russ said...

I really want to sample a monolin.

Bug said...

No ... you really don't.

It has no musical applications whatsoever.