Thursday, November 2, 2017

I Went To Hell And Back (The Clarinet Saga) - R2BC

Can you spot the missing piece? It's the clip that holds the reed. Who knew? 
After paying not a small amount of money for DD's extra art lessons, which I didn't begrudge at all, we got a letter from the school saying that each child had to choose one of the following instruments: clarinet, saxophone, flute, trombone and trumpet. DD chose the trumpet. I vetoed that so she chose clarinet.

Then we got a letter that we had to go and rent the instrument from the Jerusalem Music Centre at a cost of 300nis, we had to leave a deposit of 1,000nis (a cheque that hopefully won't be cashed), and we had to buy the reeds for the clarinet.

I was annoyed. I wrote an email to the Headmistress and the class teacher in which I wrote:

Dear .........
I want to ask you about the musical instrument lessons and make a suggestion.

DD has been playing the recorder at school for a year now and though she enjoys playing she didn't get very far with it. Therefore, I'm not so happy about paying 300nis to hire a clarinet and leave a 1000nis cheque as deposit when music is obviously not her passion (unlike art, which she loves and has some talent for). 

However, I do think that music is important and that it's a wonderful opportunity to get lessons at school at this age. As they already have recorders, could the school offer the option of a recorder group as one of the groups for the musical instrument lessons? The recorder isn't just an instrument for kids. It's a proper instrument and recorder ensembles can be beautiful.

I would love for DD to be competent in playing a musical instrument and to be able to read music, but I don't see the point of starting a new one when the instrument we have is lovely and would fulfill all the music requirements without the added cost and pressure.

I know there is at least one other member of the class who would also be interested in this option.

The answer was no. They said very nicely that they'd discussed it with the music co-ordinator and it's too late to change things now. Perhaps for next year. (Hands up anyone who believes the clarinet teacher could also teach recorder.) I was so tempted to reply, "That's great thanks, so we'll wait for the recorder group next year." But DD is not quite 9 and she doesn't want to be different from everyone else so I agreed to get the clarinet.

I reminded myself that the music programme is one of the reasons I chose this school. I had to admit that 300nis (about 65 GBP) is a very good price for what will be about 30 lessons, hopefully. And DD was happy. My mother, via skype, also reminded me that when we were kids they bought recorders for each of us, two violins, a melodica, a guitar, and a flute, and none of us plays anything today. I admitted that I still had a keyboard that I bought 25 years ago in order to learn the piano, and I don't use it at all now. (DD chipped in here, "yes you do use it. You put all the clean laundry on it when you can't be bothered to fold it up and put it away." Thanks for that Darling.)

That night I couldn't fall asleep for worrying about the 1,000 shekels that they'd take if we lost or damaged the clarinet.

The JMC is in Hell's Valley. I'm not kidding. It's in the Valley of Gehenna (also called Hinnom), if you know your Bible:

"In the Hebrew Bible, Gehenna was initially where some of the kings of Judah sacrificed their children by fire. Thereafter it was deemed to be cursed (Jer. 7:3119:2-6).
In Rabbinic literature and Christian and Islamic scripture, Gehenna is a destination of the wicked..... the King James Version of the Bible usually translates with the Anglo-Saxon word Hell." Wikipedia
No buses go there. Of course not, it's cursed! So we took a taxi down, down, down towards the depths of the rocky cliff below the Old City of Jerusalem. We hired our clarinet and because God's mercy is not abandoned at the gates of Hell, we met the mother of one of DD's classmates there. She not only gave us a ride back unto the land of the living, but she also took us straight to the music shop where we shared a packet of reeds. (DD has only lost one of her reeds so far. :~) )

Lo and behold, the first clarinet lesson cameth! DD came home and told me there is a piece missing from her instrument and you can't play it without this piece. I closed my eyes and saw my 1,000nis being taken as we are accused of losing the missing piece. At the very least it would be two more taxi rides to sort it out.

I called the music teacher. He told me to call Ronit. I asked for her number. I got nothing. I sent a slightly hysterical text message to the class teacher saying I need to speak to Ronit. Who is she? Where is she? Can I please have something to go on here - a surname, a number, an email? Anything? I got a number.

Meanwhile another mother gave me the number of Yaffa who also goes to the JMC and might be able to get the missing part for me. I spoke to Ronit and she told me to speak to Chikol who is in charge of the instruments at the JMC, and she might be able to bring me the missing piece if he has one spare. I spoke to Chikol and he said he would give the missing piece to Yaffa. I texted Yaffa. She replied that she is the flute teacher not the clarinet teacher. By this time I wasn't sure who'd I'd spoken to. I contacted Ronit again and she said she would get the missing piece from Chikol today.

So hopefully that is the end of the clarinet saga. This is my Reasons 2B Cheerful post this week because we do not have to go back to Hell and sort it out. Otoh, we've not got it yet and we've not tried it to make sure it's the correct piece that was missing. Ho hum, for now I'm cheerful so I've joined the R2BC linky on Michelle's Mummy from the Heart.


  1. What a relief that Hell is not back on the itinerary! I lasted a very short time on the clarinet as I squeaked too much... I played trombone for longer but not for 30 years. However I can still get a recognisable tune out of a recorder!

    1. I'm going for the recorder. I loved playing it at school. So I bough myself a new on while we were in the music shop. It was considerably cheaper than a clarinet.

  2. I too played the clarinet at school (but badly). We had a very good music program at my Jr. & High School and I was lucky in that all the instruments were provided free of charge - we just had to buy the reeds. My dad was very musical and could play many instruments but only one sister took after him. I did practise but it must have been painful for the neighbours (I'm 1 of 5 kids so my parents were used to noise)!
    Hope the missing part arrives safely and there are no further trips to Hell!

    1. I spoke to texted Ronit last night and she replied that she had it in her hand. So hopefully we're set to go.

  3. Ahh I did clarinet at school too! Not for too long though, I ended up sticking to the piano. I can't play it as well as I'd like, but it's handy at this time of year for Christmas songs and the like! Glad to see in the comments that you got the missing piece sorted. :)

    1. And this weekend we suddenly got all enthused about playing the recorder. Time will tell.

  4. I still have the flute and we have 2 recorders and the melodica in our house. If dd wants to swap instrument she can have it.

    1. Now you tell me. I knew you still had the flute but I wasn't sure if you were still 'attached' to it or not. And I didn't realise we had to pay for the clarinet. Anyway, we have it now and the clarinet group has only 5 in the group whereas flute has many more. DD said she might like to try the flute next so good to know, thanks. Meanwhile we both got enthused over playing the recorder this weekend.

  5. Oh my word, why do schools do these things to us? What a nightmare that the piece was missing. I hope that clarinet is fully in tact and being enjoyed now. Mich x

    1. Today is the second lesson. Ronit texted me last week to say that she had it in her hand. Lets hope that it is passed on to DD today.