Reclaiming the ‘cool’ in ‘music nerd’

Postscript proudly embraces musical endeavours—once again, and for all

Who says nobody likes a music nerd?
Who says nobody likes a music nerd?
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I have a confession to make. I am a music nerd.

When I say “music nerd,” I don’t mean that I’m one of those cool audiophiles who listens to every obscure band on the planet. I’m talking about the piano-lesson-band-geek-choir-girl level of nerdiness. Think less Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo and more American Pie’s band geek, Michelle.

When I was growing up, being a music nerd was actually a positive thing. On Thursdays at lunch hour, my mom would pick my sister and me up from elementary school and promptly cart us off to our piano lessons. While one of us hammered her way through her half-hour session, the other got to colour, daydream, snooze, or do whatever her little heart desired.

Although colouring your way through a Thursday afternoon is a great way to spend the day, it wasn’t even the best part of piano lessons. The most fabulous thing about it was that I got to miss school.

Do you remember how exciting it was to legitimately skip out on those oh-so-tough grade two classes? I had to hide my mischievous seven-year-old smirk behind my music books when I returned to afternoon class, just so my fellow classmates wouldn’t get too jealous. Life as a music nerd was sweet.

When I got to middle school, my music nerdiness blossomed. The maracas and recorders of elementary school seemed so passé when compared to the exciting array of trumpets, saxophones, and clarinets that awaited me in middle school. I was more than ready for the challenge. After all, I was a mature lass of 12 by then.

When it came time to pick an instrument, I had no interest in the “cool” choices. I wanted to play the French horn. My music teacher, who usually had to assign the French horn to the unlucky kids who were absent on instrument selection day, actually said “Really?” when I proudly announced my decision. Nevertheless, I wasn’t fazed. I stuck to my French horn-y guns.

It was when I got to high school that things got a little complicated. I was still a music nerd—more so than ever—but I became so ashamed of my nerdiness that I began to hide my musical activities. I still participated in band, orchestra, choir, and school music trips, but I stopped being proud of them.

I would lie to my friends about having lunch-hour band practice, telling them that I had to meet up with so-and-so at my locker. When I had to take my French horn home, I would hide in a bathroom stall and wait until the crowds dispersed so no one would see me carrying my big, geeky case. Thursday night choir practice became my dirty little secret.

My uncontrollable shame kept growing. It got to the point where I didn’t even want to be seen practicing my scales and arpeggios in my own home. I would wait until I had the house to myself, creep upstairs to minimize the sound level, and practice in secret like a criminal.

I still haven’t decided if my hermit-ish horning habits were depressing or hilarious.

To this day, I don’t know why my French horn made me so unsure of myself. It wasn’t that I was an insecure person, and it wasn’t that I wasn’t a terrible player.

Maybe it was the fact that my French horn-tooting self conflicted with the image of the hip, cool, 16-year-old that I was trying to be. Whatever it was, playing the French horn had become a soft spot that ached profusely whenever anyone teased me about it.

I’m sorry to report that I haven’t touched a French horn since I graduated from high school almost four years ago. I succumbed to that niggling voice in the back of my mind that told me “no one likes a music nerd.”

But, friends, never fear. The music nerd inside of me did not die. In fact, I have re-embraced my music nerdiness. I have been on the attendance roster of the Queen’s Choral Ensemble for the past four years and have proudly participated in many other musical groups and events. And, the best part is, I haven’t lied about my nerdiness once.

Life as a music nerd is once again sweet.

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