I think becoming a band nerd was an inevitable outcome for me. My mom was a music ed major in college (though, she ended up far from that working for Indiana’s leading heart surgeon group)… so, well, joining band wasn’t really a question, it was just sort of expected. But at that stage of my life, I wanted to. My big brother was in band, and frankly, probably two-thirds of my school was as well. It wasn’t really seen as nerdy back in 5th grade.
Though I probably could have picked any instrument I wanted, we had an alto sax and a trumpet at home–so that sort of became my two options. The trumpet was my brother’s old student one, and the alto my dad’s old (beautiful) one from when he was in grade school. There were auditions and try outs–mainly to make sure we didn’t have a band of only sax, flute, and percussion. By the time I made it in, the sax section was full. The decision was made for me that I’d play trumpet.
I don’t really regret being “stuck” with the trumpet. But by 8th grade, I wasn’t fond of that instrument. I hit a plateau in my ability and was just getting frustrated. So I told my director that if I wasn’t able to switch instruments, I was quitting. Within a few weeks, I was playing baritone. Yet again, I’d followed my brother, only by this point he was playing tuba already and I had no plans at all on switching to tuba at any time.
The baritone was a dream. The perfect match for me. By high school I’d packed away tattered bell-front baritones, and was on to playing the euphonium. If you know the difference between a trumpet and a cornet, you pretty much know the difference between a baritone and a euphonium. And despite my small hands, I was getting pretty awesome with our four-valved horns. I even marched a marching baritone, which let me tell you, those are not for the weak! Homegirl had some guns. I was section leader for a few years, even did State Solo & Ensemble. I played for one semester in college, and that was it. They bought a brand new euphonium for me, but come opera season the director only wanted trombones in the pit, so I quit.
And that was it. Until years later I met Mucca Pazza, found a beautiful Holton bell-front euphonium* on ebay, bought a pink mouthpiece**, and joined the Reading Band. I was scared at first. I hadn’t played in years, let alone to start playing with strangers. I stayed pretty nervous and timid for a while. And though I settled in enough for our first concert, and felt better for our second, and then our third… I still lacked confidence. I felt more comfortable managing and organizing the group–which I eventually started doing–than having much of a featured part.
But back in May 2010, we disbanded. The group that let us use their studio space was moving to a new location and well, people were just getting busy. (I’d also lost my pink mouthpiece, but luckily had a spare glow-in-the-dark one.) So, I packed up my horn and it just sat.
Until last night.
After over a year and half, Reading Band got back together. We were always a somewhat small group, and last night wasn’t much different. Flute, melodica, accordion, alto sax, tuba and myself. As I looked over the music last night before everyone got there–I’m still organizing the group, if not more so than before–well, I realized something. Holy crap had I actually forgotten how to read music?! Luckily it wasn’t the case, but it’d been a long time and my mind had to scramble a bit to make sense of the little dots on the page.
I have to say, last night was amazing. It felt good and natural, and oh so very right, to be playing my horn again–to be with my group again. I went in last night kind of expecting to sound like complete crap. And besides just needing to build my embouchure back up and getting my fingers twisted, I sort of surprised myself. I surprised myself even further talking with bandmates about rearranging one of our pieces and asking for a baritone feature. I was actually asking for a solo-ish part.
I’m pretty damn excited about getting back into playing music, to being a part of it. Glad I wasn’t the only one thinking we should do more than just one practice a month! December 8th can’t come soon enough!
*I actually measured. It’s conical. My horn’s a euphonium. Yes, I am a huge nerd.
**yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. Plastic mouthpiece… weird. But it was awesome and I’m sad it’s gone. Though now that we’re back into things, I’m going to get a couple new mouthpieces (metal and plastic). Need to find the right fit!
ALSO: Today is the VERY LAST DAY to enter my uber awesome 500th post giveaway. Gap jeans, Mucca tshirts, Modify Watches, artwork, cupcakes… there’s a lot you could win! Go! Enter! Win free stuff! Tell me about the instrument you played for an extra entry. Or if you didn’t play an instrument, what thing did you take a long break from and then finally get back into? (Don’t forget to look through the rest of this weeks’ posts for other ways of getting bonus entries.) Contest ends at midnight CST!