Control, and a Hound Dog

Human beings love the idea of control. Whether we would openly admit such an underlying characteristic that governs our life, or are embarrassed to even acknowledge it, there is no running away from it. Think that is all untrue? Examine the various aspects of our lives and you can see that in all these situations we seek to establish some sense of control, at least on a minimal level. We try to decorate our room the way we like, so that it reflects the impression and look we would like to present. If we are not bothered about the way it looks, then we try to keep it functional, so that we have at least control over it. Parents lament the lack of control teenagers have over their room when it looks untidy, although teenagers will insist the room is under control, functional, and they know where everything is.

The physical surroundings are not just the only aspect of our lives where we try to establish control. We try to organise the people we interact with and the level of interactions to one that we are comfortable with, so that we end up seeing who we like more and limit the time we have to interact with less appealing characters. Even parents may try to control the social dealings of their children if they feel that peers are exerting a bad influence on them!

We also seek to establish control over the digital world and the intellectual right to objects we create. For example, if we have come up with ideas, we exert our right to them via patents and copyright, so that anyone who uses our intellectual property infringes on our ownership of it when they do so without our permission. This is particularly so in music, where one person can borrow another’s person tune. Exerting copyright over one’s intellectual property is a form of control. If anyone sings your song or uses your lyrics, they have to pay you royalties.

Did you know what one of the songs most associated with Elvis Presley was actually not his own? The lyrics You Ain’t Nuthin but a Hound Dog are best imagined with Elvis’ voice, but it was actually a cover version of the original. (Read more about it here in the Piano Teacher Crouch End website.) One wonders if Ellie Mae Thornton had made her claim to it before he used it! If she hadn’t, then that would have been a form of self-sabotage. Like how Hector Berlioz almost ruined his own career!

Music as a helpful distractor

We’ve all heard the expression “house of cards”. This means that things are built on shaky foundations, and are likely to fall in the future when the weight of expectations falls because the supports are not strong enough. When we use this expression, we talk about situations that are unsustainable, or lies that are told that require increasing lies to sustain.

One woman in Japan was worried about the impact of single-parenthood on her daughter. The girl had grown up without knowing her dad and was suffering emotionally, becoming withdrawn, not confident in her own abilities. In her company of her peers she also suffered because perhaps most of her friends had both sets of parents while she did not, and she felt lacking in comparison. The woman decided that drastic action was needed and in the end hired an actor to play the part of a long-last dad. The actor came from a casting agency and usually performed the role of an escort, such as a boyfriend or family member, on a one-off basis, but this job was different in that it required the actor to make prolonged appearances that extended beyond the usual parameters. While the mother took rather drastic actions, she saw how her daughter’s self-confidence returned and how this could be viewed as a constructive approach.

Yet is this merely a house of cards approach? This was voiced by the view of the actor playing the role of a father. Sooner or later the girl will learn that her father is not her birth father, the one person she calls Dad is actually one person who has no relation at all. It also brings in other complications. The actor found the mother falling in love with him, because he was so good at playing the part of a kind caring father that she was falling in love with his character! But how far can this go?

The pianist Fanny Hensel (nee Mendelssohn) grew up under her mother’s wing and while not strictly from a single-parent family, circumstances during that time meant she spent more under her mother’s influence. Lea Mendelssohn realised the advantages of music in teaching useful skills like perseverance and applied knowledge, which is why Fanny grew up to be an accomplished pianist. (You can read more about her in the Piano Lessons N8 website.) And if you are a single parent, starting up music lessons for your child may be a good thing for you too – it would give you time away from your child as they practice!