Sunday, April 15, 2012


I usually just post pictures and some captions but today I am doing something different.

I took J, G, and N to the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra concert tonight as my birthday present from my dad. I am sorry to say that I haven't been to seen this particular orchestra even though I have lived in Saginaw since 1995. I have seen the Indianapolis Symphony a few times at Conner Prairie since then. In the early 90s Todd took me to the ISO twice for New Year's Eve. I was so nervous the first time my mom had to reassure me that my small town boyfriend could do the symphony. He was fine. And I appreciate to this day him doing that for me because it was something I enjoyed.

I was amazed at how I reacted to the music, but not just the music but the musicians or rather what they remanded me of.
The SBSO is actually smaller that my high school's orchestra: the winds and percussion were about the same, but only 5 cellos, 6 violas and 18 violins. I think we had 25 or so violins, at least 8 if not 12 cellos.

The concert was:
A Night at the Movies: The Music of John Williams
Star Wars: Suite for Orchestra
Theme from Jaws
NBC's Mission Theme
Raiders of the Lost Ark: Raiders March
March from Superman
Olympic Fanfare and Theme
The Cowboys
Theme from J.F.K.
Theme from Schindler's List
Theme from Jurassic Park
E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial: "Adventures on Earth"

My favorites were Jaws because of the featured all of the bass instruments and Schildler's List because of the beauty and the amazing violinist.

So the symphony is not part of my normal life...unlike laundry and cleaning and all the other stuff that goes with doing what I do.

It used to be.

I started playing clarinet in sixth grade. I moved to the bassoon early that year. My desire to be different and the band director's recognition of my big hands being the motivation. So I guess I was a band geek. I took lessons on and off depending on my mood or what boy I was trying to impress that year. I probably could have been pretty good if I had practiced everyday like the good musicians do. Being one of only a hand full of bassoon players I did manage to be first chair in middle school and most of high school. In the middle of my freshman year I was honored to be asked to play with the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, the top band at North Central. That also meant I got to play with the orchestra. It was very exciting.

I remember many seniors that I only played with for part of my freshman year. We had a senior that played harp. We played the Waltz of the Flowers for every concert. We finally played it for State Competition and won. I remember Marcus the tuba player who was super nice and had big fat fingers. At the end of the year somehow someone managed to get one of the awful polyester dresses we wore as a memento for Carrie, a talented flute player who despised the dress. I played in the pit orchestra for South Pacific. I loved being in the pit. It was first suggested to me to play in the pit by a red headed trumpet player who complicated my life tremendously that year. I believe that was the year we marched in the 500 Festival Parade. I carried the banner with another band member. It was hot and a long walk. Also at the end of that year as every year I played in the graduation band for commencement. It was at the coliseum at the state fairgrounds. Kind of a strange venue.

The next year I had to march as I was in the SWE in the fall. I had avoided it my freshman year. You can't march with a bassoon, so the summer between my freshman and sophomore years I tried to learn to play the saxophone. I never really succeeded. But I got through that marching season without any major embarrassment. There was a saxophones/clarinet player who was greatly encouraging though. We had a female drum major who I looked up to and decided I wanted to emulate. Football games were fun. We also had a pep band for basketball and our team did very well that year. The other bassoon player got to play in pit that year for Oklahoma. I never liked him much. I also never knew when he was going to be there. Now looking back I am sure it wasn't his fault, he was probably in a tough situation and missed a lot school often because of it. He played first chair, but in a concert he missed he had a solo that I hadn't practiced much and I got in trouble for not paying it. I still can see Mr. Dennis glaring at me. I did play that solo during the state orchestra competition. To this day I can hear the judge saying on tape of remarks "good job bassoon, don't go sharp..." But I did. It was a high F that I had to hold it for a measure and a half. We didn't win that year. We came in second to our arch rival. This year graduation was at Market Square Arena. We sat on plywood on top of the ice. My feet got cold.

My junior year I was able to play in the pit orchestra for Brigadoon. Lots of oboe and bassoon solos. I played saxophone again in the marching band. We had a new Marching band director. He kind of shook things up and changed things around. Now we had to memorize our music...I could barely remember how to play the sax that fall let alone learn the music too. I did more marching than playing that year. What I remember most of that year was the seniors. I had played with many of them for 2 years. I would miss them when they left. I was never close to any of them (except that one clarinet player) but for whatever reason I really wanted to be friends with them. Those pesky trombone players and their spray bottles picked on me endlessly.

My senior year I tried out for drum major. There was a new girl who had been drum major at her old school. I didn't make it. But I didn't have to worry about the saxophone that year. The bass drum line was made up of two oboe players, a clarinet and a bassoon player. We were used to playing together. I had known one of the oboes players for years and the other since seventh grade. It was kind of fun as the drum line is the star of any marching band, but something new is always a challenge. The freshman started to learn the basics of marching. I helped out during a semi-free hour. It kind of fulfilled my desire to be drum major. The Wiz was the musical of the year...the jazz band provided the music. I was kind of bummed. I always loved to listen to the jazz band.

I don't remember being terribly sad about giving my bassoon back to the band director that year, but I must have been. I probably didn't realize in the excitement of graduation how much I would miss making music with the band and the orchestra and the directors of both and the people who worked together an hour or more a day to make music.

Now as I look back I try not to be sad. I try to be grateful for what I learned in my short music career; I am sure that the list would be endless. I remember with fondness the people I worked with. I am happy that I have reconnected with some on Facebook. I think the thing I enjoyed most was being in the middle of a group that worked hard together to make something enjoyable for others. Since I graduated I haven't found the joy and excitement from being part of such a large and varied group. I think some of the excitement comes from age...the ups and downs have mellowed.

I do think, as I did tonight, that every time I see a symphony in action I will see the faces of those I grew up with and made music with: Kenny and Charlie (percussion); Ward, Valerie, Brad (clarinet); Liz, Mellie, Carrie, Tina (flute); Mickey and Mari (oboe); Steve, Emily, Dave, Cam (trombone); Mike, Ron, Richard, Steve, John (trumpet); Eric, Nancy (sax); Derek, the young concertmaster, Chicca, Jessica, Catherine (strings); the crazy Hungarian who loved to teach and the steady Purdue fan who was a quiet and steady director. And of course many many many more.

The music alone is moving and powerful. The people who are part of the memory are priceless.

Thanks you all for helping me to grow into who I am.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm not supposed to be crying at my desk...
but thanks much for this!