Musical Musings, 1 or whatever out of 10 gazillion

So, KW, you spent a good part of your youth practicing musical instruments, mainly the flute but also the “puano” and some dabbling into other instruments. It’s true. And… I can certainly sing in tune but although I probably don’t have the worst voice on earth, I am not a trained singer. The one instrument I struggled with was the clarinet. I could not get the “hang” of the reed for the life of me. I was upset. My college professor was concerned. About halfway through that class I suddenly got it. I’m not sure which one of us was the happiest.

Why do I not “do” music for a living? I have an education in classical flute performance. For extremely complicated reasons, I did not pursue a higher music degree or try to find a job playing (or teaching) the flute in any capacity.

One of the things I didn’t like when I was a young musician was whatever challenge system was imposed upon us kiddos. I joined the Sault High band as a 7th grader. The junior and senior high schools were connected by a long hallway in those days and there was a sorta junior high music type thingy but I remember being PDQ sent over to join the high school band. Mr. Diecke was the band director then and he knew I was good at the flute. I also took piano lessons from his wife, in the house my parents eventually owned and I sold a few years ago.

I didn’t challenge *anyone* as a 7th grader. I hung out in the ragtag back of the flute section. I mean, I was NOT gonna challenge Vivian, our first chair junior, who was really good and as a 7th grader, I so admired her. In 8th grade, I got brave and challenged a couple people (including a high school senior, did I really do that? yes and I won) and moved up into something like 4th chair. I was in 8th grade… I didn’t challenge Eileen, who was two years ahead of me, until I was a freshman and she was a junior. She had kind of inherited 1st chair because Vivian had graduated. Eileen was good but I thought I was better, so I challenged. Alas, I didn’t get it.

Our new kinda idiot band director had instituted a system for challenges where the two people in question went behind a bunch of cabinets and played one after the other. The band students got to vote. Of course I always lost. The band kids knew who was playing and I was only a freshman so of course they voted for the junior. The last time I challenged, the band director told me I should try it again. You are better, he said. I’m sorry Mr. O’Stupid, I am done. Your challenges are not fair. I didn’t bother challenging again. Why? I decided to maintain a good friendship with Eileen and support her and then after she graduated, I took over the first chair position.

2 Responses to “Musical Musings, 1 or whatever out of 10 gazillion”

  1. Margaret Says:

    The kids always know, don’t they? Whenever there was a rumor at school, the students always knew way before I did. Relationships can be more important than winning 1st chair. 🙂

  2. Tonya G Watkins Says:

    Interesting! I was in the high school band in 7th and 8th grade, too. (They were still building the junior high so all of us were in the same building, albeit separated by many things, but Helen and I were in the h.s. band and we LOVED it, and grew so much!) By the time we were juniors and seniors, our beloved band director stopped holding challenges, which meant that all of us were spread around the various parts to add strength to them all. It was a little odd because lots of seat changes in the midst of concerts between performances. There was no shame in playing the 3rd part, or second part. Generally either Helen or me remained in the first section (if there was a solo, or especially tricky refrain etc.), but we spread it around and it removed SO MUCH STRESS for everyone. Band was joyful.