A band geek for life. That’s me.
I was 11 years old when I picked up the clarinet for the first time. I joined the school band and officially became a band geek. Over the years I played in all kinds of bands: concert, jazz, Dixieland, symphonies, musicals and church choirs. It was a blast! I have so many good memories about those days and made lifelong friends. And everything they say about “band camp” is true. Although I picked up the tenor sax along the way, the clarinet remained my first love.
As I got older and life happened my clarinet became an object in the darkest corner of my closet. Although I never played anymore, I couldn’t bring myself to sell it. I kept telling myself that I would play again – someday.
A few years ago, my youngest decided that the clarinet would be her band instrument. I was giddy with the thought of mother and daughter duets. I dug out my clarinet and found someone who would get her back into working order. When I went to pick it up, he reminded me what a good instrument it was. Too good for a student. He was right. As I looked with admiration at the polished wood and the sparkly keys I thought to myself…someday was now.
Note: My daughter’s love of the clarinet only lasted one year much to my dismay and she traded music for drama. A mother’s dream crushed but a daughter’s dream discovered.
I found a local community band that welcomed all ages and experience. I couldn’t wait for the first rehearsal.
But once I was sitting in the 3rd clarinet chair I started to get nervous. Other than blowing a few notes, I hadn’t played in more than 20 years. I began to worry that I wouldn’t remember how to read music and actually play. Then came the warm-up. A concert B-flat scale. I was amazed that my fingers played a perfect scale (well not perfect but I knew the notes). Then I played another. And another. Something clicked in my brain, and everything came back to me. It was like I never stopped.
When I started writing this blog my intent was to link learning and playing an instrument. Science shows that learning to play an instrument changes how the brain functions. Here is a great video that explains all the scientific stuff. Instead, I decided to share why every Saturday morning I pull myself out of bed to be at rehearsal for 9 am.
Simply – I love it.
When I play with my fellow group of musicians, I feel pure joy. Tears to my eyes type of joy. We are making something beautiful together. To see an audience tap their toe or smile is fun. Music is universal. Everyone speaks it.
It also challenges me. I can’t explain what it means to read and interpret music. To take notes written on the page and make it real. It makes my brain, breath and fingers work together in a way no other activity does. Playing in a band takes concentration and discipline – and laughter. And of course, I am learning too.
I am filled with gratitude that I am still able to play. I am also grateful for knowing what my parents sacrificed to buy my instrument many years ago when I know money was tight. I appreciate the time they spent driving me to practices and being at every concert.
40 plus years later, they still are in the audience. Still beaming with pride and still enjoying the music.
I will play as long as I have somewhere to play and my body allows me to.
If you have an instrument gathering dust somewhere, I encourage you to dig it out. You just might rediscover your long lost love.
I am a band geek for life. Will you join me?