Sunday, October 17, 2010
Ode to the metronome
Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Fast. Slow. Steady beat. Such was the voice of my metronome. It was ancient when it first came into my possession, belonging first to my older brother, and if memory serves me correctly, my grandmother before him.
It was not the modern metronome - a slick black box with a tiny battery that makes it click. Instead it was a wooden triangular box with a wind-up key on the side. If you wound the key nine times, the metronome had enough power to last for over an hour of practice.
When I left home, I didn't bring a lot of my childhood things along, but I did pack the metronome. As we have moved many times, I have kept my metronome. When we stored stuff when our house went on the market, I left the metronome in a kitchen cabinet where I could see it daily.
Maybe that seems like a strange item to keep, but my metronome and I have been through much together. Rhythm is not my strongest gift. Many times over the years, I became extraordinarily frustrated by complicated measures of music. I have yelled at, hit, and thrown my metronome. Then I would retrieve it, reset it, and try again. It has been many years since I last needed to know the exact difference between 64 and 72 beats a minutes, however I still open the cabinet to look at that metronome frequently.
My old metronome is a strong reminder of persistence. Even though rhythm doesn't come naturally for me, any song can be mastered with enough hard work and discipline. My metronome is a reminder of where I have been. When I see the old beat-up case, I remember the hours of frustration over music that is now simple. I remember the hours of time I invested in something that I have grown to love. I am reminded that I am human as I examine the dents in the case from the angry outbursts as a teen.
Tonight, I opened the metronome one last time for my kids to use for band practice. Their fancy slick little black box needed new batteries, so they were willing to use my antique. Unfortunately, my metronome has starting counting off beat - like me. 1...2...........3..4...........1......2..3.4......1.2.3.........4........
Instead of throwing it away, I gently replaced the cover and set it back on the shelf. I decided that I needed it, even if it wasn't able to help me count anymore. I need the reminder that anything is possible if you have the persistence to daily refuse to accept failure. While my metronome may be a little off beat, it is still dead on with its life lessons.