Monday, June 30, 2008

Did you Tonette?



My brother, sisters and I grew up in Port Arthur, Texas and attended Travis Elementary. At Travis, when you were in the 4th grade, everyone took band class. In 4th grade, however, we weren't worthy of actual instruments. Everyone played the Tonette. If you played the Tonette good enough, you were allowed to get a real instrument in 5th grade. I played clarinet in 5th and 6th grades and I kicked ass.

As a person who can't sing a melody to save my soul, I was fascinated that I could play a song exactly the way it actually sounded just by reading and following the sheet music. It's not that I'm tone deaf. One test we were given before joining the actual instrument playing band (as opposed to the Tonette playing band) was to determine if we could name a note by hearing it played on the piano. I recall doing very well on that test. So, I hear music, I know when notes are off key, but there's a disconnect between my brain and my mouth.

The reason I never became a famous jazz clarinetist is a pitiful tale indeed. In 7th grade it was required that everyone be in the marching band as well as the concert band. Marching was not my obstacle. Throwing up in the 100 degree summer heat during summer marching practice, however, was a definite deal breaker. Also, in those days the band hall wasn't air conditioned. So, playing an instrument...a WIND instrument...in the stuffy band hall wasn't much better than marching in the heat. I didn't throw up, but I stayed pretty damn dizzy.

I've always thought it was unfortunate that my kick ass clarinet playing was thwarted by Mr. Britain and his everyone must march rule and my own Laurie must throw up rule. Of course, by not being in the band I learned lots of other things: sewing, cooking, speaking French, typing. I hardly ever throw up when I do any of those things. So, I've got that going for me.

9 comments:

Lorna said...

I thought I was going to read a post about a home perm for little girls. Twisted memory or reality?

Just a Plane Ride Away said...

I played the recorder in 4th grade! Is that what a Tonette is? Alas, I missed out on the whole marching band experience, as I went to private school and played piano insead. I think I would have liked playing in a band, though.

ms. e said...

I loved marching band. Of course, for three of my four years of high school band I was in the color guard, and was captain my senior year. :) Yeah, I kick ass.

theroyalspeaker- aldwin said...

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Queen of Quite A Lot said...

Across the big Twin City Hwy, we played the "Flutophone" in Port Neches. And yes, I thought I was IT when I figured out (read: sounded out what I thought) was Cherokee.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Ah, what could have been.....

"Here's Ol' Laurie
"On the clarinet.
"You aint' never heard
"Anything like her yet."

Susan in St. Paul said...

I played auto harp for a short period of time, piano also short, wanted to play real harp but there wasn't one around my grade school. Did nothing in jr high. What I mainly did was sing in choirs and chorus.
I used to faint and throw up in early morning choir practice during grade school, it gave me great practice for later in life when I got my period, which involved all that and more! ;-)

No marching bands or orchestra in my high school, I wonder if all private schools are like that? I sang in the choir.

Just a Plane Ride Away said...

Susan, I wanted to play the harp too. I still do! I told my husband that I'm going to buy a small harp when we go to Ireland. Um, maybe that's why we haven't gone yet?

My rival school (private also) had a marching band. All we had was a drum corps, which I wanted to join but was too shy to try out.

Laurie said...

Lorna - My mom used to give us those home perms! Hahaha! I forgot about that.

Just - I think a Tonette is a little different from a recorder. I still hope to learn piano one day.

Ms. E - You still kick ass. :)

Royal Speaker - I'll check it out. I don't list links though. I use Bloglines.

Queen - Ah, flutophone! Port Neches was always more ahead of the times than Port Arthur. :)

Old Horsetail - Heck, yeah!

Susan - I hated choir. It was hot in that choir room, too.

Just - After playing guitar (or trying to) for a while, I wasn't a fan of the calluses you get from the strings. I hear harpists have HUGE calluses.