Friday, July 13, 2007

The internal musician

I’ve been on vacation for two weeks now. The countdown to my flight to Vancouver is on – just three days left of my northern summer. The days have been absolutely, breathtakingly gorgeous. I’ve been spending time walking down by the river, gardening in the community greenhouse (well, just watering my friend’s plot occasionally), and generally relaxing.

About a month and a half ago, two friends and I joined the community band. The high school music teacher had been leading a small group of music enthusiasts every Tuesday night. I tried out the flute and trumpet on my first night there, only to become extremely disillusioned by the vast discrepancy between my self-perceived ability and my actual ability. Couldn’t get more than a tiny wisp of sound from the flute, and could get nothing from the trumpet at all. I had to drag my boyfriend from his station in the foyer, where he waited for me patiently, to show us how to buzz into the trumpet. Even then, when my two friends eventually coaxed some disjointed tones from the instrument, all I managed to get were the giggles.

So, the following week, I decided to pick up the clarinet. It’s been about five sessions since, and I now know most of the notes. So determined was I to finally be able to play a wind instrument that I went online and bought myself a clarinet, one made out of granadilla wood, one that was perhaps too advanced for me. It came last week after many frenzied phone calls to the courier to track it down. One of my friends chose to be the percussionist for the band, while the other picked up the French horn, which must be the most difficult instrument.

One day, when my friend and I were strolling down the main street after a practice session with her French horn in tow, a group of children on bikes came up to us and begged us to show them what was in the black case. We opened it up, and their eyes widened. They asked my friend to play them a tune, but she politely replied that she couldn’t play songs yet. I jumped in, chattering to them that we were in the community band, and that we would probably play in some upcoming community events.

I felt like a child again. On that main street, where children’s eyes lit up at the sight of the shiny brass horn, where the northern summer sky seemed eternal, I could see ourselves assembled as musicians, our fingers all a-flourish, our concentration intense, our songs flowing out to meet the expectations of our internal youth.

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