Most of you know I play in a community band. We practice on Tuesday nights. Tonight I was feeling guilty for not practicing during the week, and tired from a crazy day at work. I was thinking that maybe this one time it would be OK not to go to band. But I had music my husband had pulled from the music library that the director had requested, and I couldn’t just drop that off and run. So I stayed.
And I have to say, this evening, like every Tuesday night, I was glad I stayed to play. I let the music pick up my spirits, enjoyed the challenge of getting a little bit better at the parts I should have practiced, heard new rhythms and underlying phrases of other sections, figured out how some of it went together. I always leave rehearsal feeling better than I did going in and there’s something worthwhile in that alone.
I’m so lucky to have this outlet, a place to let the rest of the world go and just have fun; I don’t think most adults can say they have something similar. Certainly as we get older we get fewer opportunities to do something that other people actually applaud for. Music does that for me and don’t think for a minute I don’t appreciate it. Even when our audience is small I appreciate the fact they come out and clap enthusiastically. It makes those of us playing feel young again, makes us smile, makes us glad we could share the fun we get to enjoy every Tuesday night.
Tonight she handed out a new piece of music, something unique, with sounds not classical or jazz or rag. It is called “Africa: Ceremony, Song and Ritual” composed by Robert W Smith. You can listen to it here. It’s almost 9 minutes but worth the time.
At about 46 seconds in you’ll hear a weird sound, hard to describe, sort of like a metal whistle but not. Our tympani player is a high school student, and this instrument was in his part but he didn’t know what it was. The director found it for him, and he asked how to play it. It’s a metal rectangle with a piece sticking up and a wire of some sort. I can’t say I got a good look at it. She told him how to play it, he tried it out and then he grinned from ear to ear the whole rest of the piece. It was so neat to see a high school student enthralled with learning something new. I talked to him about it at the break, as he was practicing different effects out in the hall. He said it was dangerous, you could get your finger caught in it. I said it was dangerous because if it got played at the wrong moment everyone would know. He started laughing and said that was true about everything he played. Good point.
But the part in my music that made me stop, almost made me laugh out loud in the middle of rehearsal was this. Do you see it? At measure 180?
It says ‘pick a note.’ This is what went through my mind the first time we got to this measure: “Pick a note? What note? Should it be in the key we’re in? Probably not, probably it should be something weird, totally out of character. What would that be?”
It took me so long to analyze those three words that I missed playing anything at all during the two measures. As did most of the band. We all sort of petered out as our minds tried to comprehend that we could choose any note we wanted. For two whole measures we were free, and what we ended up doing was nothing much at all. I’m sure by next week we will have all chosen our note and the sound will be…well…interesting. On the recording these two measures start at 8 minutes and 37 seconds. You can decide for yourselves how strange and/or cool it sounds.
See? This is the kind of fun we have on Tuesday nights. We get to do different things, interact with different people. I wish everyone could do something just for themselves once a week. The world would be a better place.
Indulge yourselves. Find your passion. Grow a little, learn a little, meet a few more interesting people. You won’t be sorry.
And I promise, if I can get there, I’ll come clap for you.