I recently attended a concert and knew it was going to be a long 90 minutes from the very first song. Why? Because the song featured a tambourine. I hate the tambourine and I don’t care what color it is, what it’s made of, who’s shaking it, and whether or not it is ergonomically designed, it still sounds tinny and cheap to me. And the slightest misstep on the beat… don’t even get me started.
The triangle made its debut in the fourth song. I was doomed. And I was back in fourth grade.
I remember when a tambourine made an appearance in my church one Sunday and I gasped. I do not go to a tambourine shaking church, nor apparently do the other members, because I haven’t seen or heard it since.
Knowing this concert was a small indie band from Canada, I passed the time by closing my eyes, letting my head fall back, and pretending I was back in the fun little pub in Halifax, noshing on a plate of poutine. I waved over an usher and tried to order a Molson before she reminded me I was in a concert hall on Michigan State’s campus; no beer allowed.
Don’t misunderstand me here. In grade school I loved these “instruments”. Maybe it was because I loved Mrs. Peterson, our wonderful music teacher. (Do they even have music teachers at the grade school level anymore?) She would lug a box of maracas, castanets, cow bells, shaker things, and yes, tambourines and triangles from classroom to classroom. Maybe throw in a couple of wood blocks and we were good to go; we were musicians as we sang while pounding, shaking and clinking while Mrs. Peterson played the piano.
But this was more than 50 years ago, and I dare say, I left those tambourine shaking days behind when I graduated to the recorder. And I’ve never looked back. Of course, for Christmas this year, my brother got a nose flute, and my sister is learning to play the spoons; she’s already mastered the harmonica. But that’s another concert, and maybe, just maybe I better take the rust off my old cow bell. We may have our own family gig in the making.
Of course I survived the concert. The singing was good, the stage presence was nonexistent, the keyboards were… I don’t recall. But a week later, it’s the tambourine and triangle I remember. How did this group with their assortment of “rhythm” shaker noisemaker things even get to this fine theater, I wondered? It wasn’t lost on me that the final song featured two tambourines.