Tuesday, June 29, 2010

First Love

I inherited an old, hand-me-down flute when I was in third grade. It belonged to my Aunt Ginny, and I'm pretty sure it was owned by someone prior to that. Basically, this is another way of saying: This flute is OLD! In fact, so old it's made of an inferior metal, a bit more shiny than other flutes, with a slightly different sound, in my opinion. I remember in some ways feeling special that my flute was different, but after a bit wanted the same, beautiful silver flutes my friends had instead.

When I first brought this flute home from southern California, I was in awe. It idd not matter that it was used; I was truly in love. The stained velvet interior of the case, the long cleaning tool that looked like a giant sewing needle. I remember when I first opened it I was disappointed; I did not realize it came in three parts I had to put together. I loved the smell of this old instrument, the look and the feel, even the little parts of the metal that had been worn off from so much use.

I wasn't altogether fond of my young instructor, but I loved to practice! I practiced all the time, going though instructional books at a pretty good pace, learning my scales. Reading music came easily to me, so easily that I really don't know how to explain how to read music or finger notes; it has become so ingrained in my mind that my brain doesn't even think; my fingers just respond.
Music made so much sense to me.

In elementary school I was one of the unpopular kids. It did not bother me; I enjoyed the solitude and my books. Sometimes I'd have one very special friend that enjoyed reading and making up imaginative stories with me. In fourth grade or perhaps it was fifth? Not sure, but we had a band. A few times a week our music teacher would come and have band in the cafeteria. We shared him with all the other elementary schools in the district. Since I had lessons the summer prior to school starting, it was decided I skip beginning band with my classmates and go with the older grades band rehearsal. This set me even further apart from my peers; instead of being a good, positive thing, I was teased more. It did not matter; I was in love with my music. (though there was a time when I really though clarinets were cuter and wanted to switch but I couldn't even get a clarinet to make any noise at all! I'm not a reed instrument type.)

So I skipped beginning band of twinkle twinkle little star and Mary Had a Little lamb, and went straight to the theme song of Raiders of the Last Ark, Ice Castles, Superman and Star Wars..... where ever section actually played a different, unique part. (kinda)

We sounded horrible.

Still, I loved flute, practiced flute. At the end of the year they had an "honor band" of all the top, gifted musicians to come together with other top students from other schools and have a concert. It was here I was introduced to Lust.

My Lust? A piccolo. I absolutely had to own and play this tiny, miniature, shrill thing. So I did. My parents bought me a little piccolo. It was so much better than my flute; teeny tiny, only 2 pieces, in a cute tiny case with brand new blue velvet interior. Did I mention it was the right kind of silver? it was so beautiful. Unfortunately for my parents and neighbors, I loved to practice it way more than my flute. Piccolos are loud and shrill, and though I was good at fingers and reading music and notes, I wasn't always perfectly on pitch.

In jr. high I attended a small private Christian school that did not have band. The closest I could get was private lessons after school and I did that, only there was no motivation anymore. I now was in a youth group with a lot of other people that became my friends. At school I was involved in a choral club, we'd rehearse after school too. I still did lessons but my heart wasn't in it. Without the competition of others in a band, and no recital, there was little incentive.

In high school I was happy I still stuck with my flute lessons because it once again, it allowed me to skip the beginning band that all freshman are enrolled in. I was fortunate; the Symphonic Band had 3 flute openings due to Seniors graduating and I auditioned and did well. Not only that, but because I owned my own piccolo, I became the piccolo player! Symphonic band was awesome, and we did well at CMEA festivals, played at Disneyland, even went to the World's Fair in Vancouver, Canada to play. However.... it wasn't always great. My beloved band teacher, known as "Mr. G" was the nicest guy but he lost his temper a few times. I was almost creamed by his flying baton on occasion, and I was yelled at. I have no idea why I so desired to play piccolo in band because it I don't like attention and a piccolo screams for attention! I had little confidence in my ability and was scared crazy at every performance, competition and even practice.

But my love for flute remained. I even did well, involved in a few duets and trios where we earned the highest honor at solo-ensemble festivals: CP, or Command Performance. Even though I was a shrill piccolo player, on my flute my strength was low notes. I could really play a low note well! So on one piece, Dance of the Reed Flutes, I was the third part. I still remember and can play the 3rd part; it's like the bass line, so very different than the first and second parts. I loved it.

The other day my kids wanted to see it. I took it down, dusted it off and realized that I could no longer play. I still could read music but couldn't play well. And then I realized: my old flute was so worn out, it wasn't me; it was my instrument. I could still get a sound out of it, but all the pads were no longer working. It was so frustrating. My piccolo needed a bit of help too but I could still play it.

David, my husband, encouraged me to get it repaired. My first thought was why? My second realization was it probably would cost more to repair it than to buy a whole new one. Really. The flute is ancient, made of a different metal, is it worth the money? And for what reason? So I could play flute? For what purpose?

Still, I want to play. I want to realize that I can, This brought me so much joy and comfort long ago, so much beauty in my life.

I just miss music in my life.

No comments:

Post a Comment