Clap Along!

I can read music.

I took piano lessons as a kid.

I played the clarinet for more years than a person who is mostly tone deaf should, because it kept me out of the choir room – I wasn’t welcome there.

I still play the piano.

Now I, due entirely to the fact that capoeira has bewitched me beyond what is sensible, have started to learn to play instruments no one has heard of like a berimbau, pandeiro and atabaque. I’d describe this mysterious capoeira activity and it’s associated instruments to you but I’m sort of afraid that it will enchant you too. And then, even if you are also a natural music-less hermit, you will find yourself preforming this martial art in front of people, while singing and clapping and it will be all my fault and I’m not ready for that kind of responsibility.*

I know this because I would be the hermit who has absolutely no sense of rhythm (a word I just found out I can’t even spell)  and so I sing and pretend to clap in front of people because clapping is hard.

Those of you who just reached out to mentally pat me on the head with a slight roll of your eyes because we are talking about the thing we teach our babies to do before they even walk, I congratulate you.

You have rhythm!

Take a bow! Your musical life, as well as any concerts you attend will be enhanced. I hear with practice one can even sing and clap, or tap a foot and play an instrument at the same time. You are going places and you are doing it on the beat!

I, however, will be watching.

In fact if you could manage to clap so that it is easily visible to those around you that would be great. I, and others like me, need to watch your hands so that I can make my hands make the noise at the same time yours do.

Because clapping is hard.

Last night John told me, “When I get behind on the beat I just clap faster,” and then I dissolved into hysterical laughter.


A) I don’t know when I’m behind. I mean I know when I’m the only person in a room clapping at a different time than the other people, but behind? Ahead? How do you even?!?

B) He just “claps faster”… I’m not even going to tell you the things I do to try to get back on beat. It’s too embarrassing. Let’s just say “clapping faster” would be a heck of a lot easier if I could figure it out how on earth one does that.

And now, because I’d really prefer to minimize the comments that tell me I should just practice more I’d like to refer you back to the top. I have played instruments and read music since I was ten years old. I have been regularly practicing clapping, as well as clapping and singing at the same time for two and half years. Despite the fact that my brain refuses to acknowledge how it works, the concept of rhythm is familiar to me. I just don’t have it.

Of course I’m not saying that practicing doesn’t help, I have improved! I can now sing and clap at the same time so long as one of you wonderfully blessed persons is standing where I can see you clap and all the syllables fall on the beat. I figure at this rate I’ll be successfully clapping and singing at the same time in another ten years… as long as I’ve got someone next to me to watch.

So please, if you’ve been blessed with rhythm, clap nicely.  Those of us who aren’t are watching!

*  That’s a lie. I’m totally ready for that responsibility, come to class with me, it’ll be terrible and the most fun ever all at the same time, trust me… I know…


7 comments on “Clap Along!

  1. Love this essay. Learning another musically challenged soul is out there makes my suffering less.
    p.s. I love bagpipe music because it has only nine notes – and no one claps along: )

    • Jessie says:

      When you first wrote that I listened to bagpipe music until John came home and started making loud noises inquiring what the “god-awful racket” was for. I kinda like it though. 🙂

  2. Susie says:

    Yes. We share the same gene. About three-quarters the way through my beginners ballet class (as an adult) I happily told the instructor that I heard the beat! He looked amazed. (I lost it again by the next class, sadly.)

  3. A. Mouse says:

    I’ve played piano, harp, and clarinet through my years (and forgotten all of it), and I even took choir once or twice… but for the life of me I cannot dance. I was in a musical in high school that required me to sing AND dance at the same time and I swear it blew a fuse in my brain.
    According to members of the audience, I had such an intense scowl on my face while trying to remember the steps and words that it completely detracted from the silly, lighthearted song I was singing.
    So, I can clap. Just please, for the love of all that is good, don’t ask me to dance and sing at the same time.

  4. […] can clap and sing at the same time- (sometimes). I understand rudimentary Portuguese and can sing a number of songs in it (some of which I even […]

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