Why recorders were cool: We all shared the collective horror of playing this instrument, and wondering why the hell we had to play it in the first place.
Why recorders were not cool: A third of the class played the right note, a third were not able to play the right note, and a third purposely played the wrong note, because playing the wrong note on purpose was *hilarious* when you were eight. This was after the stage when everyone playing the recorder sounded like a drunk Concorde.
18. Wood block
Why wood blocks were cool: You weren’t playing the recorder.
Why wood blocks were not cool: You only got this instrument because there were basically no other instruments left in the music toy chest. Nobody has ever thought, “You know what this piece of music needs? MORE WOOD.”
17. Any instrument that has a bell on
Why these musical instruments were cool: *Instant* Christmas (even in May).
Why these musical instruments were not cool: Because if you played them too confidently you started to look like an enthusiastic country morris dancer, which is by far the furthest thing away from being cool, certainly the ranking-of-childhood-instruments-when-you-were-younger kind of cool anyway. Official.
Why triangles were cool: The pride of being “that one” with the triangle.
Why triangles were not cool: The slow realisation that there was no pride to being “that one” with the triangle, only humiliation when you realised nobody loved you. And then there were the condescending remarks everyone would give you after you played your two-second triangle solo brilliantly. And the horror of dropping the instrument and receiving the “if you can’t be trusted with a triangle…” look from your teacher.
Why tambourines were cool: Everyone knew where you were in the building.
Why tambourines were not cool: No person enjoyed you playing this instrument as much as you did. At one point you got excited and thought, “Let’s play this LOUD.” Then you sounded like a 7.2 Richter earthquake, and all your schoolmates gave you the “you’re not popular” look.
Why kazoos were cool: Did you want to sound like someone with a peg on their nose attempting to hum recognisable and popular pop music songs? Now you could!
Why kazoos were not cool: Did you want to bore your friends by continuously playing an instrument that sounded like someone with a peg on their nose attempting to hum recognisable and popular pop music songs? Now you could!
Why harmonicas were cool: When someone was playing another instrument and slipped a harmonica in their mouth and managed to play both instruments, it was cool.
Why harmonicas were not cool: When you were playing it for the first time, you thought mastering a harmonica was wheezing in and out of it. You then boasted about your skillz to a friend, who tried it. Then you felt shit.
12. Rain stick
Why rain sticks were cool: The tallest instrument of the bunch. You always wondered how this instrument manages to just play forever. You could turn it over, leave the room, have a lie down, watch a 90s episode of Neighbours, queue at the tuck shop (all the greatest schools had tuck shops), come back, and it would have just finished and people would clap and go, “Well done, that was excellent.”
Why rain sticks were not cool: There were not many songs that required rain sounds. And on those that did, you could have been replaced with an open window on a wet day.
Why clarinets were cool: You could separate your instrument into FOUR. You had to carefully align your instrument when you put it together, too (hashtag skills).
Why clarinets were not cool: If you had to wet your reed and your reed was broken you were a nobody, and if you tried to use a “flavoured reed” then everything was way worse. Your clarinet case looked like a briefcase (hashtag corporate).
Why tubas were cool: Everyone would run towards you and ask you to play the note that sounded like you’d just let off a fart.
Why tubas were not cool: Everyone would run towards you and ask you to play the note that sounded like you’d just let off a fart. Fame is such a difficult, complicated and cynical world. Escape, and harness true talent while you still can.
Why maracas were cool: You managed to pull off flicking a pair of them around in all sorts of directions while shaking your arse, and you DIDN’T look like a total idiot. You always managed to pull it off.
Why maracas were not cool: Someone always managed to shake their arse better than you did, especially your crush who went out with the schoolmate who played the triangle.
Why guitars were cool: It is the instrument everyone looks at onstage 99% of the time during a performance, and nobody really knows why.
Why guitars were not cool: Some musicians got very obsessed about it and felt that their guitar was the centre of the universe and had to be talked about at all times. Plus someone always managed to shake their arse better than you did.
Why violins were cool: You could make all music sound like high culture. You didn’t have the clarinet briefcase problem. Your violin case was just beautiful.
Why violins were not cool: When you started playing it, the noise sounded like someone somewhere was getting really quite violently hurt, but no one could admit it to you. Not even you.
Why pianos were cool: Pianos were cool when you could play without sheet music, when you were so passionate your hair went crazy when you played, and when you didn’t use your private piano lesson during school as an excuse to escape RE class and talk about crushes with your piano teacher.
Why pianos were not cool: When you hadn’t actually played a piano before, you compensated by playing “Heart and Soul” until you got one of the notes wrong (so you would start over again). Or you played “Chopsticks”. “Chopsticks” is a disgrace.
Why flutes were cool: The way you played the instrument at that angle and flicked it like a fishing rod. Everyone is still talking about that flute scene in Anchorman.
Why flutes were not cool: Being overheard discussing spit with other flute players instantly demoted your cool rating. You could be a little bit boastful with how high you played (our eardrums nearly exploded, guys).
Why drums were cool: LOUD DRUM MAKE LOUD NOISE.
Why drums were not cool: When people realised you used an electronic drum kit, it indicated that you got on with your parents too well. There was also never a sadder moment than when you came across a drum in the box with a hole in. Or when you stumbled across a drum that had lost its bounce due to too much hard hitting.
Yes, thinking about these downsides, our lives were really much simpler back then.
Why the harp was cool: When you saw someone sitting down about to play a harp you’d think, “How did they get it here? Did they use a forklift truck?” Then you hear them play and you’re like <3.
You might argue that harps aren’t like “cool” like “band-goes-on-tour-and-then-releases-disappointing-second-album-cool”, but this instrument is a class of its own.
Why the harp was not cool: It is nowhere near as cool as No. 2.
2. This sexy instrument.
Why this instrument was cool: You weren’t playing an instrument, you were making art.
Why this instrument was not cool: It is nowhere near as cool as No. 1.
1. Keyboard (specifically the demo button)
Why the demo button was cool: Neeeeooooowwww neeee neeeeooo dooop dooop dooop dooop doooop dooop ddeee deee ddeeee fffflllddd dldld aaarrrr bahhh neeeed nooooooooodddd deeeeee fffllllllaaaaasss tttttwwwaaaffffI neeeeop.
Oveworked melodies that sounded like rejected American 80s police cop dramas. You played THAT button when your teacher’s back was turned for an entire hour.
And then the button that changed every key into a musical instrument. You tested it by pressing several keys with your fingers. Not long after that you tried your entire arm on there. Then your leg. It sounded like an entire orchestra blew up.
Ah, the “demo button”. There was nothing else as good as you, and there never will be again.
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