It's Buy-a-Musical-Instrument Day! I think that's awesome. I certainly hope whoever buys one will be better about playing it than I was.

I actually played THREE musical instruments when I was a boy...well, three if you count the flutaphone. And you should.

Yeah, the flutaphone is how I started when I was in fifth grade. Well, not exactly, I guess. I'd already begun piano lessons the year before. But the flutaphone was supposed to be my entrance exam into the world of the school band. Uh, no dice.

After the flutaphone, all us fifth graders were asked to choose an instrument. We'd learn it and then be ready for the band when we moved into middle school.

Well, being the genius that I am, I picked what I considered at the time to be the most difficult instrument there is to play--the trombone. I always thought they looked really cool. And, they did. But they had no keys and felt like guess work.

The notes were all arm positions and I NEVER got any of them right. Consequently, my trombone playing sounded like a train colliding with an airplane colliding with a nuclear bomb. Needless to say, no middle school band for me.

As for the piano playing, I took lessons for 5 years. The piano is my favorite musical instrument. It just sounds a whole lot better when someone else is playing it.

See, I hated practicing. And when I got to my lesson each week, my teacher, Mrs. Parker, could tell I hated practicing because I didn't sound any better than the week before.

In five years of lessons, I think I only ever was able to play one piece fluidly, and that was "Sunrise, Sunset" from Fiddler on the Roof...and I cannot stand Fiddler on the Roof.

Obviously, I now have a much greater respect for the discipline required to learn an instrument than I did when I was a kid. Thing is, while I could and still can read music, I could never play the piano by ear. And I think you need that to be a good pianist.

So, if you bought a musical instrument today, do NOT follow my lead. Follow your ears...or your instructor's directives...or both.

And, above all, have fun!