So…it’s come to this.
I picked up a junky, squeaky, dusty clarinet and proceeded to annoy the hell out of my parents (probably almost to the point of murder) sometime in the fall of 1997. I was in fifth grade then, and band didn’t start until sixth grade, but I kind of wanted a head start. By that point, the junky, squeaky, dusty clarinet had been subjected to about $125 in repairs and my beginning band director told my parents it was an awful instrument and that they should just get me a new one. I kept that clarinet, kept it in good repair, learned how to do some basic repairs myself, and I practiced and practiced, sometimes seven or eight hours a day.
Sometimes I had to go practice outside, or in the back of my dad’s garage, away from the house. Sometimes my mom yelled down the hall for me to close my door when it was already closed. That clarinet got me a scholarship to go to music camp for two weeks, got me to the first chair position for most of my high school band experience, and got me into music school. I left that program for the greener pastures of a major in history after one semester, and quitting was definitely the healthiest thing I could have done at the time.
I still kept playing for fun, sometimes in two or three different ensembles at any given point in time. I’ve stepped in and learned a new part last-minute to cover for somebody else, and played in ensembles premiering up-and-coming young composers’ newest pieces. I’ve passed along my tips and tricks to much younger clarinetists and learned everything I could from people who have been teaching music since before my parents were born. In addition to the formerly junky, squeaky, dusty clarinet, I have another clarinet, an alto saxophone, and an E-flat clarinet. I’ve played just about every other concert band instrument I could get my hands on, with varying levels of success.
But I’ve been downright awful at playing anything that doesn’t fit in a concert band setting. I got a D+ in Piano I during my brief career as a music student, gave up the violin after learning “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”. I’m just not coordinated enough to make sense of a drum set, even though I’ve been around them my entire life (one of my uncles is a professional musician, with the drums his instrument of choice). Singing? Ha, forget it! I see a note on the page and hear it in my head as it would sound coming out of my clarinet, a major second lower than written.
This time around, I’m going to try using this book. It was on Dallas’ bookshelf next to “Fishing for Dummies”; he’s got a guitar in his closet and one in a case wedged between his bookshelf and his desk. I’m trying to develop a couple of new hobbies while he’s gone to help pass the time when I’m not at work. Maybe this will work out, maybe it won’t. I’m not a “complete idiot” as far as music is concerned, but I sure feel like one when I’m faced with a guitar.