Tuesday, April 14, 2015

ARTSPEAK! Poem #14 "The Music Lesson"

Hello, and welcome to day #14 of ARTSPEAK!, my Poem-a-Day Project for National Poetry Month 2015, in which I am writing from images found in the online collections of the National Gallery of Art and focusing on dialogue, conversations, what does the piece say? 

Big THANKS to everyone who has been reading and commenting on these poems! My enthusiasm is rather rollercoasterish (it's a long month!), and your encouragement really helps! Mwah!

Today's piece is "The Music Lesson: Studio of Gerard ter Borch the Younger" by an anonymous (Dutch) artist.

So this piece really speaks to me because I am a new cello student. There is nothing quite so humbling as learning a new instrument, especially when one is an adult and knows full-well how the instrument should sound!

Some of you  may remember that I picked up the fiddle last year... well, I kept having this niggling feeling that I chose the wrong instrument! So, at the start of 2015, I moved to the cello. And I fell in love!!

I have a wonderful teacher -- he actually taught my son to play the cello many moons ago. He reminds me often that failure is just part of art -- and not to be so hard on myself. Every day, I am learning. And every day, I spend part of my practice time just being one with the instrument. Closing out all those other voices and allowing myself to experience music.

So all that goes into this poem! I first considered writing from the girl's perspective... but she doesn't look very happy, does she? It seems to me she's trying very hard, and her teacher is getting on to her. I didn't want a sad poem... I pretty much always want to write about joy. Poetry for me is a way to love the world. So I decided to write from the instrument's (is it a mandolin? Oh World Wise Web, please do tell!) point of view. And since I didn't know exactly what kind of instrument, I tried to write the poem in a way that it could be any instrument.

... and now I am not so sure about that puddling beneath the chair! Kids would probably imagine another kind of puddle -- which, I'm sure, in one music lesson or another, has actually happened! I need to think about how I can carry forward the bumblebee metaphor... but not now. Later!

Be sure to visit Renee at No Water River to find out what's the latest with our Progressive Poem!


  1. Oh I think I like the puddle part! Haha. Maybe you can liken the music to honey or something to elaborate on the bumblebee theme...

  2. Ah. I feel your new passion in this one.

    This instrument of mine misbehaves
    Refusing to speak in tune, despite my
    Strumming, humming, delicate thrumming,
    It yammers on in chaos, an off-kilter wail of mercy
    Scratching eardrums so vast that even the walls wince.
    Musical notes jut, faint, rocket themselves faster than
    My fingers can follow, I silently scream, “Be quiet, you liar!”
    When Mr. Johnson whispers, “Good, you’re getting better.”

    (c) Charles Waters 2015 all rights reserved.

  4. Maybe it's a lute?
    I like that bumblebee hummmm!

  5. The inked blur of notes/and measures--beautiful.


Your thoughts?