Once a band nerd, always a band nerd

My upbringing was a musical one. I picked up a flute at age 10 and didn’t put it down for eight years. I stayed after class one time to learn a few notes on the clarinet for fun. I made my brother teach me some fingerings on the trumpet. In my freshman year of high school I decided that one instrument wasn’t enough and that I was going to learn the oboe, too. I took intensive lessons for that year and grew leaps and bounds but my growing coursework and responsibilities eventually won out and I dropped this extracurricular pursuit. I’m still kicking myself! But I was a perfectionist when it came to music and I knew I couldn’t excel at both. My perfectionism really came out one time at a band clinic my school participated in – students could prepare a piece to perform and be graded on, not for any award but just for general edification. Work hard and be graded on it? Right up my alley. Nerd. Anyway, I set my sights on a perfect score and delivered what I thought was a flawless performance. So needless to say I was devastated when I was docked ONE measly point for failing to pay adequate attention to the dynamics of the piece, meaning I didn’t manage my volume control when the music dictated. I may have cried. At a score of 99%. I was that kid.

After playing the flute for eight years, I  then ignored it for nine. Until Saturday! A family friend brought one over to Mark’s parents’ house so I swept the dust bunnies out of the corners of my mind where sight-reading resided and tried to play something. It was a bit harder than I expected – my embouchure (the position you hold your mouth to make sound) was quite out of shape and my fingers grew sore from holding the flute in position after only 10 minutes. It’s true what they say about muscles: use them or lose them! Mark’s parents are taking care of his grandma’s piano so I pulled a Mozart piece out of a box of music and tried to play a few bars. I had trouble making sound at first but my embouchure improved the longer I played, and my sight reading skills were rusty but still there! I’ve always said that once we had a house then I would start playing instruments again so I suppose now is the time. I’m now determined to find my flute on my next trip home and bring it back with me! My brain enjoyed the mental exercise of sight-reading and playing. Speaking of mental exercise, is it nerdy to admit that sometimes I mentally play the flute along to songs? I think that’s why I remembered the fingerings, because I still play them in my head!

I guess I’ll always be a band nerd. But I’m in good company: Mark’s 90-something-year-old grandma still plays her flute and is darn good at it. Maybe we can do a duet!

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