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Plan B and a ’tinkly winkly tink’


Who has ever felt like fleeing from stores at the mall that were piping horrible tunes through the loudspeakers? I do it all the time, writes Lance Fredericks.

File picture: Pexels

MUSIC period was my least favourite time at primary school. Put me in the handwork room and I would be perfectly fine doing bookbinding or technical drawings. But music … no thank you. No thank you very much indeed! And a few of my buddies felt the same.

One day for our music period we were ushered to the staffroom, because that’s where the school’s piano was kept. It was going to be ‘music day with instruments’, but when I eventually got to the box the cool instruments had all been claimed and all that was left was a triangle.

Look, I hated ‘music period’, but I hated the triangle more. There was no manly way to hold a triangle. You had to hold it on the stringy-thingy and dangle it from a limp wrist. How could you possibly look cool holding a triangle?

While Teacher played the piano, and on cue the clappers ‘clapped’, the tambourines ‘tammbed’ and of course the triangles had to ‘tinkly winkly tink’, I knew what I needed to do … I initiated Plan B.

Plan B was simple – play the fool to prove that you’re cool.

Serious music people know the triangle’s acoustic sweet spot … but I was a rebel, remember? So I ‘tinklyd’ on the bottom of the triangle, then I ‘winklyd’ with a sharp upward stroke and drew my hand sideways for the ‘tink’. This – me tapping on the inside of the triangle with a goofy grin on my gob – went on for a while.

My friends noticed. They started nudging each other as if to say, “Look, someone has figured out how to make the triangle cool and funny at the same time!”

Soon we were all stifling our laughter. I was laughing so hard on the inside that my eyes started filling with tears, and it was then that I happened to look up, and through the haze of giggle-tears realised that Teacher did not have to look at the piano keys to play. She was looking directly at me, and she was fuming.

“Get out of my class,” she roared. “You and your friends! Get out! I don’t want you in my class!”

I dropped the tinkly winkly tink into the box and, with head bowed, my crew and I left the staffroom in shame … that is, until we got outside. That’s when my friends cheered and patted me on the back as if I had scored a World Cup winning goal! I had rescued them from the dreaded music period.

We ran back to our classroom in slow-motion and for a few days afterwards the topic of conversation was how hilariously I had ‘tinkly winkly tinked’.

The music nightmare didn’t end there. One day at Sunday School, all of us were shuffled from our classroom to one of the rooms in the cathedral’s basement. The organist was there and each of the children had to sing a few lines from the hymnal individually … It was choir recruitment time.

I never sang so badly in all my life. I did it deliberately, and it worked because I wasn’t selected for the choir. And they claim that miracles don’t happen at church any more.

I am actually amazed that I enjoy music so much these days. I cannot imagine a road trip without my tunes. When I am travelling alone I sing along at the top of my terrible voice. Maybe it’s because music was always around us that I got used to it, and even started enjoying it so much that I can’t bear being separated from my tunes for too long.

I can’t imagine a road trip without Journey’s ‘More Than a Feeling’, Toto’s ‘Lessons in Love’, Boston’s ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ or Level 42’s ‘Africa’.

Yes, I got those titles and artists wrong on purpose, to mess with my fellow 70s and 80s rock snobs. I will probably be kicked out of the Facebook group now … but I am known for messing with the minds of people who love music, even without my tinkly winkly tink.

Seriously though, it’s no secret that music’s therapeutic power is becoming more widely recognised. According to a study presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 2020 conference, listening to music for 30 minutes a day reduced pain and anxiety in people who had survived heart attacks.

Not all music though, there’s plenty of information about the negative effects of certain types of music. However, there’s a theory called ‘the Mozart Effect’ that claims listening to tunes by classical composers can boost brain activity and serve as a trigger for better health and happiness.

Some classical music is an excellent aid to concentration. Music at a tempo of 60 beats per minute improves the brain’s ability to process information. Leaving it on in the background while you are studying works a treat.

I do find though that there are types of music that make me twitchy – I won’t go into any detail and single out genres, everyone’s taste is different, and I respect that. But I have fled stores at the mall that were piping what I considered obnoxious tunes through their loudspeakers. In fact, even if it’s music I enjoy, I get antsy if the music being played in a mall is too loud!

These days, when the music is not to my liking or too loud, I think that I may have to whip out my tinkly winkly tink, and do what I do best – implement Plan B and rescue other irritated shoppers from bad tunes.

After all, I have done it before and, so help me, I am sure I can do it again!

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