My house is alive with the sounds of — well, they're a lot like the sounds of the River City boys' band in the "The Music Man," when they first pick up their

instruments and are conducted by the handcuffed Harold Hill.

And it's sweet music to my ears, because THAT'S MY BOY! My No. 3 son, age 10,

has joined the fifth-grade band to learn the saxophone.

I'm not sure why he picked the saxophone. I hope it's not because it's been called "The Devil's Horn." Or because it's been described as "an instrument of decadence and immorality." Or because it was once banned in Japan, and even

"indicted" by a pope (Pope John Voigt II, I believe).

Most of all, I hope he didn't choose the sax just so he could give his neurotic

father a bad earworm. You know, one of those songs that just plays over and over in your head. You know, one of those songs that just plays over and over in

your-arrgghh! Sorry!

My earworm has nothing to do with what No. 3 plays on his sax. Instead, it's a

song that contains the word "saxophone": the probably-too-obscure-for-most-readers-to-recognize "Deacon Blues," by Steely Dan. It contains this phrase "I'll learn to work the saxophone/I'll play just what I feel." (Eventually, the singer decides he wants to be nicknamed "Deacon Blues" because, you know, "they call Alabama the Crimson Tide." Don't ask me — this song came out in 1977, and I still don't get it.)

To drown out "Deacon Blues," I'm forcing my brain to "hear" the first tune that

No. 3 ever played for me on his sax: "Hot Cross Buns." He was fiercely determined to show he could play it after only his second lesson. Unfortunately, he got perfectionistic about it, which led to some frustration: the notes for "Hot" and "Cross" came out fine, but he just couldn't stick the "Buns," which made him very hot and cross.

No. 3 is the first of my boys to take up a musical instrument. I'm not counting the ocarinas that my mother-in-law gave Nos. 3, 4 and 5 a couple summers ago. (Though they appeared harmless, the ocarinas were actually devices of cruel

torture in the hands of three small boys, who tooted them tunelessly and endlessly until they were mysteriously stolen by, um, lemurs, I think it was. Yes, lemurs.)

Anyway, I warned No. 3 that he had inherited no musical genes from his parents — we don't have a musical bone in our bodies. He said of course we do: "Cavemen used to make a sort of xylophone from the ribcages of elders who had been mysteriously killed by, um, lemurs, I think it was. Yes, lemurs." Then he gave

me a savage little wink.

No. 3 is learning his saxophone fundamentals from a book called "Learn to Play

the Saxophone!," authored by the guy who invented the instrument in the first

place, a Frenchman named Adolphe Sax. (The book has a foreword by his co-inventor, an Irishman named Maewyn O'Phone.)

Okay, okay, there was nobody named O'Phone, and the book wasn't actually written by Sax. But Adolphe Sax really did exist, and he really did invent the

saxophone, in the early 1840s, meaning that, once again, I've managed to impart

a factoid of genuine knowledge in my column, solidifying my position as the

Republican's leading smarty-pants.

Anyway, "Learn to/Saxophone" was actually authored by a guy named Frederick

Jacobs. Fred is one of those people you can Google until you severely sprain

your MCL (Mouse Clicking Ligament) and still learn nothing about. Which makes me wonder if I should trust him with my child's sax education.

Fred's book contains dozens of tunes and snippets from great composers like

Bach, Brahams, Beethoven, and Tchaikovsky. Their stuff is mixed in with timeless

classics like "Hey Diddle Diddle," "Go Tell Aunt Rhodie," and "Grandma Grunts."

I can't wait to hear that one.

My favorite song in the book was written by the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius.

It's my favorite because No. 3 always plays it at the end of his practice, so I

know he's finally just about finished.


O joy! Deacon Blues just paused to mention that he's settling into my brain for

the winter — and he's invited Grandma Grunts to join him.

Watch for Don Stuart’s column Mondays in the Rushville Republican.

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