L.G. Keltner, celebrating the one year anniversary of her blog. Participants (click on the picture to the left for a complete list) are asked to write about a beginning that is important to them. The rest is up to us.
I was going to write about my beginnings as a writer but I already did that here.
I thought I could post the poem I wrote in elementary school that was
published in the local paper (technically the first thing I ever
published. And also the only thing. But whatever) but as I was looking
through the photo album in which the news clipping lives, I came across a
photo of my high school band. It was a photo op with our senator at
the time, George Mitchell, during our trip to Washington D.C.. We're
sitting on the Capitol steps in our god-awful uniforms (thankfully sans hats), all of us smiling (well, most of us smiling), all young and full of potential.
Had I the ability to share this photo with you, I would. But as I am
currently without scanner technology, I cannot. And my haircut has
nothing to do with it. I actually look kind of cute in the picture.
Despite the band uniform.
But anyway, this picture has inspired me to tell you the story of how I came to join the high school band.
The opportunity to learn musical instruments through the school system
started in the fifth grade. It was an optional thing. If one was
interested, they could rent (to own) an instrument and join either the
band or the orchestra. Percussion, the saxophone and the violin were the
most popular and while I had a little spark of interest, I ultimately
joined neither. I'm not sure it ever occurred to any of my siblings or me that we could really do such a thing. So we didn't.
My best friends did. One of them, a girl named MJ, played the flute.
Another girl, Heidi, played the trombone. Jamie played percussion.
I played softball. Badly.
Then came the seventh grade. I walked into the junior high that first
day, went to my homeroom and received my schedule. Imagine my surprise
when the first class I was scheduled to attend was band.
"But I don't play an instrument," I told my homeroom teacher. I think his name was Mr. Leighton.
"I don't know what to tell you," Mr. Leighton said. "You'll have to talk to the guidance office."
So I talked to the guidance office. Apparently, they had gotten me
confused with MJ. It happened a lot during our high school years
because we shared the same last name and a very similar first name. It
came in handy later on in our high school careers when one of us wanted
to skip a class. (not that we ever did that...) So the guidance office agreed to take me out
of band. However, the guidance office told me I would have to attend
band rehearsals until they figured out what to do with my schedule.
So I went to band and I explained to the teacher, Mrs. MacIntyre,
that my enrollment was a mistake. That I didn't play an instrument. Any
instrument. Nor could I read music. I was currently the most useless
member of the entire band. So Mrs. MacIntyre sent me to the back of the
room where I spent a week sitting on the heater and listening to the
band learn whatever songs they were learning.
By the end of the week, the guidance office had finally figured out what
to do with me but there was one small hitch: I'd been bitten by the
music bug and I wanted to learn an instrument and be a part of the band
I ended up learning the clarinet because my aunt had one from her
student days that I could use. Mrs. MacIntyre spent so much of her spare
time teaching me. I didn't even know how to read music. I didn't know
anything and I was two years behind the rest of her students. But she
got me there and by the time I graduated from high school, I was first
chair clarinet. I also learned to play the flute, oboe, trombone,
trumpet and piano. I learned to conduct (poorly) and even composed my
own music. I even played in college for a while until the schedule
conflicted with my ability to earn a degree.
But my life was completely changed that seventh grade year. And all
because of a clerical error and the dedication of one teacher.
Thanks for L.G. Keltner for creating and hosting a very cool
blogfest. Be sure to check out her blog and the tales of the other