This week my family (sans my eldest son — he’ll be at camp) and I will be on the road again — playing two shows (Tupelo and Fulton) on Thursday. If you come to a live show, you’ll see that my family members are really important to a successful program — they help haul in and set up all the equipment, my wife sells merchandise, and my boys help with a lot of the songs and demonstrations during the program. My middle son, Nate, particularly likes to help with some of the audio-visual stuff — setting up the sound equipment and running the PowerPoint during the program.
Because I play a number of instruments (guitar, banjo, mandolin, harmonica, accordion) during the show, I’m often asked if I am teaching my boys with an eye to having them follow in my footsteps. Truth be told — I’m not much of a teacher, at least when it comes to music. Apart from a short two-year trumpet stint (5th and 6th grade), I taught myself to play my instrumental arsenal as an adult. I really don’t know how to teach someone else, particularly a child, the rudiments of playing an instrument.
That said, I recognize the value in learning an instrument at an early age. Not only is it much easier to learn the earlier your start, but obviously the player — if he/she sticks with it — has that many more years to enjoy playing than someone (like me) who finds a passion for music later in life. But the spark has to be there, right? There has to be an interest to make it worth investing time and money in an instrument.
Well, we’ve invested in Nate — he’s got a bell/drum kit in preparation with starting in 6th grade band this Fall. He has about a year of piano instruction (a couple of years ago before we moved to Starkville) under his belt so he can read music. He’s always liked funk music — seems to have an ear for rhythm so I’m hoping that he’ll take to drums and, who knows, maybe bass guitar might be in his future. I don’t play those instruments — I can’t help teach him, but he would be a welcome addition to fill out the Swanson sound.
If Nate does manage to stick with the drums and we eventually form a family band, we’ll need a name. I’ve always kicked around “Stormin’ Bob Swanson and The Silver Linings,” but there may be better names that I’m overlooking. If you have an idea, leave it as a comment.