Monday, June 30, 2008
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.