It has been one year since I’ve written a blog post (and my last post was my first).
Growing up, my mom used to tell me that if I haven’t worn a piece of clothing in a year it was time to donate it. Donate it or wear it. That said, I’m going to try on this blog one more time, see if it still fits and attempt to make it a more fixed part of my wardrobe.
I have a tendency to be drawn towards shiny objects (hobbies) but lose interest in them just as quickly. It’s not something I’m proud of. I have a closet full of yoga mats, crocheting needles, instruments, tennis rackets, and workout DVDs telling me to break the cycle. So let’s (re-)kick this blog off with how I fell in (and out of) love with the idea of learning to play the clarinet.
In elementary school, learning to play an instrument was a rite of passage. And more importantly, a right to leave science class twenty minutes early (because that was the “only” time they could squeeze an extracurricular into our busy fifth-grade schedules).
When choosing my instrument, I don’t think I really cared. I probably wanted to do what’s popular, because #elementaryschool. I switched school districts mid-year in the fourth grade, and I think it took me longer to feel like I had lost the ‘new girl’ title than it should have.
Push came to shove, I selected the flute.
But according to the instructor, I wasn’t suited for the flute (fluited, if you will). “Your fingers are too fat, and it’s only going to get worse.” He was right. It did only “get worse” – my fingers today are larger than they were in the fifth grade.
And what’s the solution to fat fingers? A clarinet, clearly.
For a while I was really enthusiastic about that clarinet. I liked missing twenty minutes of science class, just due to the feeling that came with having two places to be. I liked carrying around the instrument case that gave the impression that I had a skill. I liked when the song ended and the teacher praised us. I even liked when we were all told it we needed to practice more, because we were working towards something, together.
What I unfortunately did not like was practicing.
And even more crucial, learning to read music.
Instead of learning, I just spent hours drawing a diagram of the clarinet below each note and coloring in the holes I needed to cover, or keys I needed to press, to play the right note. My sheet music looked like a hot mess of misaligned priorities.
In my defense, this method was fairly sustainable.
What this method wasn’t was good enough to get me a spot on the Maryland All State Band. Technically, I did get a spot. But that was because there were four spots and only four students auditioned. And apparently not playing the entire song and crying wasn’t enough to be disqualified as a candidate.
I passed on the opportunity.
But this didn’t break my stride.
The night had come for the biannual band concert. Let’s just say I was as prepared as I needed to be for the circumstances in which I was anticipating for that evening. It’s not like there’s a way to ‘steal the show’ at a band concert. Showboating seemed frowned upon, it was more of a collaborative exhibition. We either all sounded good or we all didn’t.
I was ready to autopilot through this concert until the curtain came up and my instructor made an announcement. “We are so fortunate that our principal is an advocate for arts education at this school, and since she is a clarinetist, we’d like to invite her to the stage to join us.”
Okay with me.
The more the merrier.
Let’s do this.
Why is she walking towards me.
Why is she pulling a chair up next to me.
“Excuse me, would you mind if I shared your sheet music?”
I’m not sure I played one single note that entire concert because I couldn’t wipe the shocked-mortified-concerned-dumbstruck look off my face as my principal used my pathetically doodled sheet music. I just sat there holding my clarinet staring at sheet music, then my principal, then my sheet music, then my clarinet, then the audience, then the principal.
I figured that if after a year of “practicing” and playing I wasn’t convinced to learn to read music, it probably wasn’t in the cards.
I was over it.
My parents and I took the clarinet back to the music store to let them know we no longer needed to rent it.
“Ma’am, you’re actually two payments away from owning this clarinet. You’ve been on our rent-to-own plan this whole year. It’s practically yours.”
Fourteen years later, that clarinet is standing upright, still assembled (reed and all), in between the piano and the bookshelf in our living room taunting me.
Just like the clarinet, this domain name is mine and I might as well use it.