Thursday, August 5, 2010

Back in the Day...

Back in the day  - that would be my day - we said "back in the olden days". You know the ones I mean. The days when the grandmother and grandfather walked 10 miles uphill in the snow to school and back and then chopped a cord of firewood before dinnertime.  So, back in the day when I was in what amounted to middle school we had a band. A real band with sousaphones and trombones and saxophones and flutes and or course the clarinet.  I had looked forward to playing in the band for years before I was finally offered the opportunity during the summer between sixth and seventh grades. I had interviewed anyone and everyone I knew about what might be the perfect instrument for me when in reality I had know forever that I wanted to play that long sleek black woodwind known as a clarinet. The licorice stick.

On the first day of summer band, the eager almost 7th graders met in the band room and were introduced to Mr. Keene. Mr. Keene was our band director. He was a stout little round man who stuck one hand halfway into the waistband of his sans-a-belt pants and held a director's baton in the other. Looking back, it couldn't have been an ordinary baton. I believe it must have been purchased from Olivander's Wand Shoppe, located of course on Daigon Alley.  How else did he manage to take a room full of musically illiterate pre-teens and transform them into a band. Perhaps he had studied under the tutelage of Prof. Harold Hill of Gary, Indiana. Everyone knows that Prof. Hill perfected the "think" method of learning a musical instrument.

I recall him demonstrating the finer points in sucking on a bamboo reed (#1) to make it pliable enough for a clarinet newby to elicit anything other that the dreaded squeaks and squeals. He patiently showed us how to grease the cork, pull the cleaning rag through to soak up moisture and other ways of taking care of our beloved instruments. If not for Mr. Keene I would have never been ready for Mr. Bragg. My days in the Junior High School Scottie Band prepared me for the transition in to the Mighty Panther Marching Band.

Band has been offered as an option to my MS.  Naturally, I assumed that she would embrace my well aged Buffet Crampon clarinet and carry on her Mimi's legacy. Sadly, I don't think there is much interest there. It may have been influenced by the fact that they don't actually have access to real instruments. Again with Prof. Hill's method. They begin their musical education with recorders. Kind of clarinetish if you squint your eyes and hold your head just right. Similar, yet not the same. They had recorder lessons in Elementary school and it's time for the real deal. No real instruments = no real interest. Little does she know the fun and memories she will be missing out on.

Ask any member of Kazoo's of America.

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