Just in the past year, music has gone from back burner to front and center (again) in my life. Some people that I know were surprised; they kind of knew that I like to play music, but didn’t know the extent of it or the history. So here it is - a quick and dirty musical timeline.
Pre-birth - Dad is a professional musician. He met two of my Moms while playing piano in clubs. Smexy. Other family members are musically inclined; most of my Mother’s family played some type of instrument (she played sax), my dad’s sister was a classically trained pianist, my Mom *did* dance and my Dad *did* rock and roll.
Young years - Signing is encouraged at the dinner table. Mom sang to me all the time, Dad had band rehearsals in the living room and left town to play gigs frequently, and I had real and play instruments as toys.
5 years old - Started piano lessons. Slacked and barely practiced. Enjoyed it nonetheless and played recitals and whatnot. Learned to read basic music.
Elementary school - Continued piano lessons and sang in our school’s chorus. Also played cheesy percussion and some recorder in school. PLEASE NOTE: Music in schools is very important.
7 or so - Started to sing loudly in the shower.
11 - Took up clarinet in middle school band and was pretty good at it.
12 - Played bass clarinet when called for in band, and clarinet the rest of the time. Continued to slack with piano lessons.
13 - Asked to play piano in middle school jazz band.
14 - Played clarinet in high school marching band. Clarinet went in the shop after the season ended, and a friend asked if I wanted to play bassoon next to him while I waited for it to come back. I shrugged and said ok.
I continued to play the bassoon even after the clarinet came back. It was fun, and in demand. It was also a major pain in the ass, since I was playing a plastic bassoon with store bought reeds. But I’m kind of tenacious and I loved my farting bedpost.
15 - Started playing bassoon in our high school orchestra and fell in love with lots of dead composers. I finally give up on piano lessons, but still played for fun.
16 - Started playing pit percussion in the marching band. Marimba was my favorite, but the glockenspiel was a close second (and, of course, the vibraslap). I also start playing in our community band.
The friend who got me playing bassoon in the first place sells his instrument to me and I start to take lessons from Shelly Unger, (who is now a music professor at Emory). I realize that if I play well enough, I could leave the state come college time. My grades start improving dramatically around the same time (and for the same reason.)
17 - I learn how to make my own reeds, continue to take lessons, play in a few paid bassooning gigs, and play first chair in the Metropolitan Youth Symphony Orchestra.
Later in the year, I auditioned and applied to several colleges and was awarded full scholarships to several of them.
18 - I go to Millikin University to study music performance with an emphasis on bassoon. At this point, I thought for sure that I would be a professional player when I “grew up.” I wanted to play soundtrack music for movies, specifically.
Unfortunately, I was depressed (like I had been for most of my life). And I was the only bassoon major at the school. The music department would ask me to play in an ensemble, and I would say yes, because I didn’t know how to say no.
At one point, I found myself playing in the faculty wind octet, sitting second chair to my bassoon professor (we played Dvorak’s Serenade for Winds in d minor, opus 44 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=948aAwB_tng&feature=results_main&playnext=1&list=PL295BE8BF7E81319B ). I was also in the city’s symphony as per their request, and sat second chair, which really pissed off chairs 3 and 4, who were easily three times my age. I was pimped out to churches, youth orchestras and bands, small wind ensembles, the band, the orchestra, and the pit for musicals.
Of course, I also had my own personal recitals and juries to worry about. Not to mention classes… which I stopped going to when I couldn’t figure out how to play music 10 hours a day, do homework, attend class, eat, and sleep in a 24 hour day. So I only lasted at Millikin for one year before I became squished by my own inability to say “I’m sorry… I’m just too busy to play Handel’s entire Messiah at your Easter concert.”
19 - I leave school and move to Tampa to hide from my family because I am too embarrassed to go back home. That’s the short story. The bassoon and clarinet collect dust while I pursue non-musical endeavors.
20 - I sold the bassoon in desperation. It went for $5000 on Ebay and I got to keep my car and electricity.
22 - I meet Tyme, and he tells me that one of his requirements for the position of “mother to my children” is “must sing to them often.” I smile because I know that I could totally do that.
24 - For my birthday, Tyme buys the same make and model of bassoon that I used to own, as well as reed making tools. I try to play a bit, but the instrument needs some repairs and I am discouraged and afraid to tell him that he would need to pay even more money for me to play it.
25 - We get hitched and started trying to make babies for me to sing to.
28 - While very pregnant, I take an elective at school - Strings 101. I play the cello and Carmen loves it… she kicks furiously everytime I stop playing, causing the instrument to jump around on my belly.
Later in the year, she is born and I can finally show off my motherly talents.
29 - We buy an upright piano for $100. It still needs to be tuned, but the kids love to play it.
31 - We send the bassoon to Fox and they fix it up. It works great, but not so much the reeds from the music store.
32 - Toby writes a solo piece for me to play. Suddenly I have an emotional incentive to play again, and the bassoon comes out at least twice a week for a spin.
33 - For my birthday, Tyme and Toby contact Shelly, my bassoon instructor from years past. She makes two reeds for me and invites the three of us to come and see her and her students play in a bassoon recital at Emory.
We go and see a play at Town and Gown that our nanny was cast in. I notice that one of the other players says that he’s the conductor of Athens Classic City Band in the program, so I facebook stalk him and ask if he needs a bassoonist. Suddenly, I’m playing music with people again. And I like it a lot.
So do my kids. I practice while they listen and do their own thing. Sometimes they make requests. Sometimes they pick up instruments and play along. We all sing together, and if they want to take lessons at some point, we’ll do that, too.
My next move is to figure out how to purchase and play a bass dulcian and then find an early music consort to play with.
I’m very happy playing again. Music was a major part of my life, and when it wasn’t as much of a part of my life, I felt like a chunk was missing. Now that the chunk has been put back, I feel more like me again. And the best part is, I’ve learned how to say “no thanks” if I’m feeling overloaded.
Final note… if you were in a band or orchestra and loved it when you were younger, you should really look into playing for your local community music ensemble.