It didn’t take long for us to realize we couldn’t play a lick of Sundays.
Mrs. Morefield, our sixth grade music teacher, tried her best to introduce us to a pre-band instrument in Mimi Rose’s homeroom class at North Side Elementary notoriously known as the Melody Flute.
Mom and Dad forked over $1.50 for the c-note, six-hole metal instrument that looked very closely like a real flute. It featured a metal mouthpiece with a cork stuffed into the opposite end. Left-handers didn’t have a chance.
Mrs. Morefield was an excellent teacher, enthusiastic and very patient. Can you imagine trying to teach thirty 12-year-olds music scales on an instrument that can very easily squeak?
The girls were eager to learn. The boys, on the other hand, could care less about blowing into a foreign metal object.
Played correctly, the Melody Flute could present some very basic tunes fairly well like, “The Bunny Hop Song,” “Three Blind Mice,” “London Bridge,” and everyone’s favorite, “Old MacDonald.”
As early Elvis impersonators, the boys were only interested in “Hound Dog,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” and the Everly Brothers’ music.
During music class the better players, the girls, moved towards the front. The boys were placed in the back of the room.
Quickly the boys noticed that if you blew through the mouthpiece with more than the recommended pressure a resounding screech, not unlike scratching your fingers across the blackboard, would emerge. On more than one occasion this method was performed on purpose.
Mrs. Morefield would stop the song in mid-chorus asking us to, “Please not do that anymore!”
In unison we responded, “Yes, Mrs. Morefield.”
It was near impossible not to bend over laughing.
One strange kid could actually play a note or two by blowing his flute through his nose, but very carefully. He became somewhat of a celebrity. He’s a doctor today.
Mrs. Morefield actually attempted teaching us how to read music notes. The notes looked like hieroglyphics to me, still do.
Try as we might to follow her direction, the boys’ section preformed in sounds similar to rusty wheels turning over and over. After about the sixth lesson Mrs. Morefield’s excellent patience stated to wear thin.
She didn’t put up with our squeaky responses anymore. Some less competent artists were often asked to leave the room. Botched choruses reddened her face. On more and more songs she looked down shaking her head in the negative.
The day came for our school’s concert where all the sixth grade classes were to play a Melody Flute selection in the Key of C. This was supposed to be in unison, an impossible request since the other two classes were no better than we were.
I can’t remember many bad things in my life. This must have been one of them.
After the Melody Flute concert Mrs. Morefield got sick and was not in school for a while. I suppose you could blame it on the School Board for approving our sixth grade class learning how to play the metal Melody Flute. That could have been the last year for Melody Flutes.
I think the mouthpiece was made out of lead, too. That and the asbestos insulation on our heating ducts we used to poke holes in with our fingers probably lead to a serious decline of our future IQ levels. Who knew?