Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Musical Memories

What is your strongest sense? Do you respond more to a song on the radio, or that whiff of a scent that sends you back in time? Or is it seeing a certain picture that stirs you? Though I'm a visual learner, I've found that music connects the memories oh so well for me.

Growing up in the 1970s, music was key for me. It started at the piano. For some reason unbeknownst to me, it was my sister who got the piano lessons. I was wickedly jealous. Why didn't they ask ME if I wanted lessons? She was complaining, and not practicing, but I was. I would open her books and teach myself the songs. Then play them better than she could. (I'm sure this thrilled her...) Finally, mom gave in and decided that we could share the lessons. I went one week, she went the next. Not a bad arrangement, and for two and half years, this worked really well. Our teacher lived two doors down, and we could walk to our lessons.

Then we moved, and the lessons ended. By now I was a passable piano player, and mom said she loved to hear me practice. My style was to go as slowly as I needed to hit each note right. Then as I knew the song better, my tempo would increase. This is so NOT how my sister practiced. She played by ear (which is of course a wonderful talent to have, which I did not) which meant she'd bang away until FINDING that right note. Not so pleasant to listen to.

Playing piano is great fun, and a wonderful foundation for learning another instrument, which I wanted desperately. After all, you can't lug a piano around with you. I wanted a portable instrument. I remember so vividly being called to the auditorium as a fourth grade class. Ms. Louegee led us down there, and all she would tell us was that we were going to hear some instruments, and then decide if we wanted to play one of them. As as soon as I heard that clarinet, I knew it was for me. There was just something about that clear yet, haunting sound that spoke to me.

The clarinet came easily to me. Perhaps because I already knew how to read music, perhaps because I'm a mathematical person, and there's a lot of math to music. Regardless, I ended up as first chair in every band I was in, until I encountered Cindy. She was better than me, and I hated her, of course. I shouldn't have expected to be first in the high school band as a sophomore, but I'm kinda a snot that way. But playing second clarinet was better than I'd thought. We got the harmony parts, and that was something new. The other advantage was that I sat closer to Paul that way. He was the drum major, and the object of affection of most girls in the school. He drove a vintage, red mustang convertible. He had longish hair, and a mustache. Who else could compete?

As is probably true in schools around the country, being in band made you a nerd. But we nerds had a great time! There's something about having to endure hideously old, wool uniforms that binds you together. Our marching band was great at the music, but oh so bad at the marching part. This is probably because our band director, though a great musician, was not very coordinated. It wasn't for lack of trying, though. We practiced before school, during school, and after school. The best we could manage, however, was to march into a formation as we took the field, and then stand there and play our songs.

But alas, I had to leave that band and those close friends. Dad moved us across the country from Maryland to Colorado just in time for my senior year of high school. I wasn't going to have that, so it was kicking and screaming the whole way that he dragged me there. My new high school had a much, much smaller band. And I was first chair again. AND there was that totally cute tuba player with the amazing eyes. He was rather shy, so how we ended up married with two kids will need to be a story for another day.


Jenny said...

I can't wait to hear the second part of the story! Thanks for sharing! Music is definitely a way to bring back memories for me also!

Brian Miller said...

ha. i was in a grarge band growing up...played a little bass and rhythm...and sang...i would say smell is a big one for me...great tale...

Linda @ A La Carte said...

How fun! I tried to learn to play the piano but alas it was not to be. Glad you enjoyed it and I'm looking forward to learning how you and the Tuba player got together.

Chatty Crone said...

What a sweet love story - you met through music - so you will have to tell us part 2 real soon. sandie

Amanda Lee said...

Can't wait for the next installment! And I'm guessing the tuba player took one look at the pretty new girl, and it was all over for him. :)