Stories and thoughts about family and life

Budding musician

on February 24, 2012

I had several friends in high school who were musicians of various sorts.  Some played the trumpet (actually, most people I knew played the trumpet), one the french horn, another the flute.  I knew most of the band pretty well as I was one of the yearbook photographers, and I often scored a ride on the band bus to most of the football games.  I loved hearing them play, and feeling the crisp air on a Friday night as the music filled the air, and knowing our team would likely emerge victorious.

Lucas, my older son, had the opportunity to join the “beginning band” this  year at his school.  He came home talking of playing the clarinet, which, frankly concerned me a bit.  I don’t want to sound like I have some prejudice toward boys playing the clarinet, but I was honestly a little worried that he would decide that wasn’t a masculine-enough instrument in a year or two and we’d be switching to another.  He has always been a little more introverted, so I didn’t want him to set himself up for rejection by playing something they other boys might consider “girly” in a year or two.  I was very careful not to say any of this to him, but rather engage him in a conversation about the various instruments and what he might like about each so that he made an informed decision.  In the end, it was the clarinet that won out, and lucky for us we had a friend who had her old clarinet from high school and was willing to pass it along to a budding musician.

I was amazed at how well Lucas took to it all.  He has a natural ear for it, and his teacher tells us constantly that he’s one of the few kids who can pick it up the first or second time he hears something.   I was thrilled that he found an activity that he enjoyed so well.  Our school does a fundraiser the last Thursday night of each month at the US Pizza close to their school, and we usually invite a bunch of friends and go eat and watch the kids play a few songs.

With winter pretty much over, and preparations for their “spring” concert (which is in May) underway, we are afforded the opportunity to hear some new music.  I’ve been listening to Lucas talk of playing the McDonald’s theme (you know, “I’m Loving It”, which you’re undoubtedly humming in your head now), and a few other little tunes.  I was amused thinking of a whole concert of little jingles, and what our band might have played when I was in school.   Anyway, they played three songs, only one of which any of the parents really could recognize, “Louie, Louie” which they totally rocked.  The other two songs were a bit more complex, and one of them sounded as thought they were still learning it.  They did a great job, especially for just learning a song and standing in front of 100 anxious parents and playing, but it struck me that the music teacher is very inventive about the music they choose, and that I suspect this is done on purpose.   I suspect he picks songs the parents don’t know so well, so we can’t critique the kids too harshly.  It also struck me last night that this plan was simply ingenious.  I mean, think of all those parents you know who watch their kids play soccer or baseball and scream at the kids until they barely want to play anymore.   We wide-eyed parents stood in awe, watching our respective children with admiration and pride.  I couldn’t have told you if Lucas played it all correctly or not.  I was just proud to hear the band come together and know that he was a part of that.

And as they were warming up, I was teleported back to Friday nights in Bearcat Stadium (my high school mascot).  Hearing our fight song, Cherokee, and cheering as the team takes the field.  I could almost see these kids in their crisp band uniforms, and see the family they would become later on with their band-mates.  I looked at my 11 year old and thought about how that one decision to join band might ultimately shape his future in the form of a scholarship, or how he at least has an appreciation of music now.   It’s interesting to me how a few moments like that can bring forth such a realization of potential, and I definitely see it in my son, and in the other kids in his band.  The boy who did the trumpet solo in Louie Louie was amazing.

It’s hard to believe we’re winding down our 5th grade year.  Just another couple of months to go. . .   And now Brennan (the 9 year old) has announced that he wants to be in the band as well.  He enjoys watching Lucas play.  Brennan has chosen a different instrument, though.  You probably guessed it–the trumpet.  At least it’s not the drums.  I mean, I may love music, but I DO have limits!


2 responses to “Budding musician

  1. Chris says:

    Shirley, this brought tears to my eyes. I would live to hear him play!!!

  2. keenchick says:

    I tried to record it last night but it was so dark outside, you would have only been able to hear it, and watching him is half the fun. He’s pretty animated.
    I’ll try to send you some of the Christmas clips.

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