Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Barn music

I’m having trouble with my clarinet. Some of it is me having to play through a mask. But most of the problem revolves around sticky pads. For several notes when I move my fingers there’s a delay in the movement of keys.

This farm was the reason I got off the freeway.

In normal times that might not be a huge problem, as I’d be one of twelve or so clarinets. But at Tuesday night’s rehearsal we only had two clarinets so I could hear myself, and it wasn’t good.

These two caught my eye right away.

Wednesday I drove my clarinet to a music store about an hour away. Of course nothing was sticking when the technician checked it out. I told him the problem only becomes noticible when the instrument is warm, after I’ve been playing for half an hour or more.

Snow and red barn.

He nodded and took it into the back room, I guess to give it a stern talking to.

I loved the little dormer.

In a few minutes he brought it back, saying the pads were dirty and he cleaned them. Of course, until I try to play it for awhile I won’t know whether the issue is fixed.

I guess I should get to practicing.

I turned around to get this image.

So where do the barns fit in? Well, I drove through farm country to get to the music store, and had my camera with me. I got off the freeway and wandered around those snowy fields for a little bit before hustling home.

Sitting alone on a corner.

I figured that way I wasn’t wasting all that gas just to get a couple key pads cleaned.

Right?

Right.


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Masked magic

Our community band has been rehearsing since September for last night’s Christmas concert. It hasn’t been easy. As librarian I sit on the board and we met numerous times, over the long months when we couldn’t play together, to access the situation.

Getting ready.

When we finally could meet again it was under the strict rules of the school system whose buildings we use. Everyone needed to be masked, even when playing our instruments. The instruments themselves had to have bell covers. And our audience had to remain masked at all times too.

Last minute instructions.

This fall we polled our members, asking whether they felt comfortable playing together under these guidelines. About 50% of the band agreed to play. I agreed too, but with trepidation. I am still uneasy being around other people in a closed space. Even if we are all masked up.

A special guest arrives.

But we all tried to be careful, and it was so good to make music again. Even if we sounded a bit ragged, given all the parts weren’t covered. Even though we only had one poor lonely percussionist, and holiday music is full of percussion!

Some rehearsals made me wonder if we’d get our stuff together in time.

We were lucky to have some high school players come in at the last moment to help us. Lots of percussionists, three clarinetists, and several others helped fill in the holes and our sound filled out.

Sleigh Ride isn’t right unless Santa conducts.

And, as is usual in community bands, when everyone shows up for the concert we show up focused, and we played so much better last night than at any one of our rehearsals.

You wouldn’t have been able to tell, because we were wearing masks, but I think every one of us was grinning by the end.

Making music is magic. We are so lucky that we were able to do that last night.

Thanks to our guest conductor, Paul!

The audience gave us a standing ovation. I don’t know if they were just anxious to leave, or glad to hear live music again after such a long break.

I think I’ll just assume they were grinning behind their masks too.


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Convergence

I want to write a post thanking all my fabulous donors who contributed to the Truck Safety Coaltion today during the Giving Tuesday campaign. That’s what I thought I’d be writing about tonight, because you were all truly amazing.

But just before 1 p.m. today, Giving Tuesday, five days after Thanksgiving, only weeks before Christmas our county became another statistic. There was a school shooting here, in a high school a couple of towns over. While we were talking about trucks and death and injury and funding, while we were congratulating each other on moving toward fundraising goals, a 15 year old was shooting classmates and a teacher.

There are three dead students so far, 8 more people injured, several are critical. A fourteen year old girl is on a ventiltor.

Oxford is a small, tight knit community. They are all in shock, as are the rest of us in this county. Just like truck crashes you never think it will happen to you or your family or your community. Until it does.

Tonight, after a full day of fundraising and an afternoon moving from disbelief and incredulity to sad acceptance, I went to my community band rehearsal — our Christmas concert is next Tuesday night. It seemed a lot to process.

The truck crash stories I’d heard today bounced around in my head, ping ponging against the sights of ambulances and medical helicopters and running students and crying parents that I’d seen on television, offset by comforting music played distractedly by folks that are parents and grandparents and high school students themselves.

So many emotions converging, it’s all a jumbled mess inside my brain. So the thank you post I planned to write will have to wait.

Tonight on my way home from rehearsal I thought about the three families who’s children didn’t come home from school today. Who will never come home again. And I thought about the families who’s children are fighting for their lives in the hospital. I thought about how the actions of one person can irreparably damage an entire community, a whole county. A family. How Christmas, and Thanksgiving too, will never be the same in Oxford.

And how Christmas music will forever bring up wells of grief for so many, just as it did in our family for so many years.

If you believe in the power of prayer, please send some this way. Because it feels like crazy has converged here, in a small town, in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the holiday season.


30 Comments

Practice makes perfect

Our community band headed back to rehearsal this week. Tuesday night was the first time we’ve played together since March of 2020. Though we normally start up again in September after the summer break, this year we delayed starting so that the school system could decide what the protocol for our playing in their buildings would be.

We are required to where a split mask while we play, and our instrament bells must be covered as well. It’s kind of crazy, because, at least for woodwinds, air blows out through all the keyholes too which remain uncovered.

Several people protested that playing band instruments while wearing a mask was ridiculous. I suppose it is. I’m on the board and we decided early on to send out a survey, telling our musicians what the requirements would be and asking if they would be playing this season. About 50% decided they weren’t comfortable and opted out.

I understand, I waffled myself.

But in the end, for me, the chance to play overrode lingering fear of contrating covid again. Though I have to tell you, playing while wearing a mask is not easy. Playing while wearing a mask when you haven’t played more than a handful of times in the past 18 months is really hard. Playing while wearing a mask when you haven’t played much in the past 18 months and while wearing glasses that fog up is really really hard.

We’re practicing Christmas music; our first concert will be in December, and Santa will be there, so we’re motivated. I’ll be practicing this week while wearing a mask so I can figure out how to breath without fogging up. And so I can blow for longer than one measure without getting winded.

Santa from another concert, another year, another lifetime ago.

Yep, I have a lot of work to do. But we’re playing music again, a sure sign that the world is beginning to right itself. And that makes me smile. I hope you have found reasons to smile this week too. Even if you’re wearing a mask and fogging up your glasses.

Change is hard.


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2 smiles, one weekend

I’m a lucky lady, I got to experience two big smiles jammed into one weekend. Plus we are experiencing beautiful weather, warm and sunny with the trees starting to turn color. The morning and evening light makes the trees just glow.

But that’s a different blog post.

My first smile of the weekend was Saturday evening when I got to play in a pop-up concert with some of my Clarkston Community Band mates and several professional musicians who came to fill holes in our orchestration.

The neighbors came out to listen to us play on their cul-de-sac.

We haven’t played together since early March. Many of us haven’t played at all since then, though most of us frantically practiced these past few days trying to get our lips back in shape. The professionals sightread the music and sounded wonderful. I was grateful to get to play with them.

Thankful for these guys coming to help us out.

It was a lovely night and we are reminded again why we play long after school ends. As our Director, Ms. Roland said, tonight we’re not talking about politics or bingewatching silly shows on TV, we’re not thinking about virusus or worried about the future.

ALl about the music.

Tonight it’s about the music. And what a relief that was.

Keeping us in time.

I hope the neighbors who came out of their homes, sat in lawn chairs and waited while we did a little rehearsing before we began, I hope they had as much fun as we did.

Making a big sound.

But I don’t see how they could have had more.

He’s played with us since he was a kid, now grown up and still making music.

Then this morning I did a virtual 5K with my friend Tami who lives in California. So that we could run/walk together she went out at 6 a.m. while it was still dark, and I waited until 9 am. here, an hour or more later than I would normally go out.

At the turn around point.

It was a compromise on both our parts because we wanted to motivate each other. Compromise works, I wish it was something that happened more in our world, but I’m not going there in this post.

Nope, this post is all about smiles. I hope you had something fun to do, or pretty to see, or beautiful to listen to this week.

As we march toward November we all need to remember to smile. And that’s as political as I’m going to get today.

Trombones all in providing the bass sounds.


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WordPress Photo Challenge: Harmony

I play clarinet in a community band and within the group are several parent/child combinations. I’ve been lucky enough to watch their musical relationships over the years. It’s been pretty cool, and I think it’s one of the best things about a community band.

For the past few years I’ve enjoyed watching a particular relationship right within my own section; a mother and daughter, both playing clarinet. I know the memories they make playing music together will last a lifetime. They have a special connection and it’s easy to see how much fun they are having.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So for the photo challenge this week I could think of nothing more appropriate than the harmony so obvious between them as we readied ourselves to play a concert on Saturday. What they have is pretty remarkable these days – mutual respect combined with love and a lot of laughter. Just another example, as far as I’m concerned, of the benefit many kids get when they grow up playing music. Especially with their parents.

You can see other interpretations of harmony as comments to the original post. Or you can check out a few of my favorites here, here and here. It’s a good theme. What do you find harmonious around you? We’d love to see, share it and link to the original post.

Guaranteed to make you smile.


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Wordless Wednesday

Wait!  I know it’s Wordless Wednesday…but I have words I want to say.  And you know I never quite know what day it is anyway.  So let me tell you about community band rehearsal last night.  Thanks to Ricky’s Mom I practiced at least 30 minutes every day this past week.  Even when I didn’t want to.  Some days it was an hour because I just got caught up in the music.  Well.  Only a couple times did it go beyond 30 minutes.  But still.

Just a moment.  A certain sheltie who will remain anonymous seems to need my attention….

There's something OUT THERE Mama!

There’s something OUT THERE Mama!

There's something OUT THERE Mama!

What?  Be quiet??? Really?

Pouting.

Pouting.

ZZZZ z z z..z...z...

ZZZZ z z z..z…z…

…so anyway…I was telling you about last night.  We’re a community band and we use a public school to get together every Tuesday night and practice.  We have a concert in a few weeks and the music is difficult.  So when I woke up to the news the public schools were closed due to icy back roads I just knew the director who is a public school band director would get us in the closed building.  I was right and she did, and more than that the school superintendent sent a custodian to open the building for us.  We are so grateful to have the support of the school administration.

We had a wonderful rehearsal.  Everyone showed up!  And you could tell people spent some time on the music since last week; things fell together and there were some nice sounds.  Some not so nice as well, but we have 3 more rehearsals so we can pound those out.

So thanks Ricky’s Mom!  For making me accountable to practice every single night.  I need to do that this week too, but I’m heading out of town this weekend.  That means I need to spend time with the music tonight and Thursday night for sure.

OK Katie.  Let’s go check out the scary rain before I head off to work.  Silly girl.

It's noisy Mama!

It’s noisy Mama!