I began playing music in high school. I tried and failed at flute in 3rd grade – I think my mouth was too small! – and then moved on to years of the desert waste of piano lessons. (No insult to my teacher or the piano, I am just not Mozart material). The middle school I attended didn’t have a band program, so it was not until I switched to high school that my dad dug his saxophone out of his closet and I began my woodwind career.
I will gloss over the next four years of symphonic band, jazz band and church orchestra. Suffice to say that my amazing saxophone teacher, “Bad Bob” Price, got me hooked on woodwinds. After 3 years of saxophone, and a brief, quickly-vetoed attempt at clarinet, I figured out that I was actually good at flute AND it was a lot easier to carry around. So I went off to college and played saxophone in the pep band and flute in the flute choir, and fell in love with a percussionist and handbell player. I kept playing in the flute choir even after I graduated since I was addicted to ensembles.
When we came to Rochester, we stumbled into what we consider the most musical church in Rochester. Handbells, choir, flute… they have all kinds of great music. In addition, the medical school here in Rochester appears to be a mecca for professional musicians. Just last night my friend Nicole and I played a duet at the Mayo Med School Recital and we were in lofty company… a professional opera singer and a professional trumpet player and tenor (professional meaning they once made all their money from music). Not to mention the other EXTREMELY talented musicians who played and sang and accompanied their way through a most enjoyable evening.
I think there was a point, before I fell in love with woodwinds, when I wanted to give up music and my dad said something like, “Music is for a lifetime.” He was right! Music is both fun and meaningful and I am so thankful for my flute, my saxophone and the ability to read music. (As an anthropologist I feel compelled to add that music is an integral part of culture, and that participating in music is an excellent way to embed onself in a culture and build connections.) So thank you parents for making me play music, and Bad Bob for helping me love it, and all the band teachers and directors over the years that gave me these opportunities.
And if you, reader, have laid aside your saxophone/flute/instrument for a long time… consider taking it out, getting it fixed up, and seeing if you can find an ensemble nearby. I promise, there are few things as personally rewarding or socially satisfying as participating in music.