Posts tagged ‘Band’

Reflection on My Top 10

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/

According to my metaphysics class, I’m not supposed to call this list the “Top 10”, but this is my blog, so nyah, nyah, nyah! 🙂 (Ego involved here?  Naah!)

Here are my Top 10 from my original post in the beginning of July:

1. Play time.  — Unchanged.

2. Art time — Still a need but combined with others numbers.

3. Sacred Space. — Unchanged.

4. $2500 a month.  — Made it once!  Something I am really struggling with; had to make an adjustment.

5. Enlightenment  – Would be great.  Quite a hefty goal!

6. Work clothes. — Not so much of a concern, but it does bother me that my clothes presently don’t fit right.

7. Etsy skirts – Got ’em!

8. Fish tank —  Got it!

9. Mortgage paid —  Unchanged but reworded.

10. Bike 100 miles (in one day). —  Did it!

Here are my newbies/repeats:

1. Awareness of my thoughts; changing negative affirmations to positive ones

2. Fulfilling work

3. Time and abundance.

4. Play

5. Debt-Free

6. Experiencing Light and Bringing Light

7. Finished basement.

8. Sacred Space.

9. Being in a band

10. Dance

These might take a little longer to accomplish, but they are what I really want.  Time to go meditate, visualize, and concentrate before I fall asleep!


So, my clarinet case got bigger and my clarinet cloned itself. Well, not really. It’s taking a friend home for the weekend . . . Uh. . . I’ll explain in a bit.

Today was my first ever experience in orchestra, and it was awesome. First of all, the campus of St. Francis was even neat. It had a welcoming, open feeling, with decent facilities. I felt right at home. The white brick on the back of the stage was a bit odd, but still cool. Kinda castle-like. . .

It seems like we have less music in the orchestra. This is awesome. Though I get some good experience trying out a bunch of new pieces in band, we usually don’t have a final list of what we’re playing until we get close to the concert. This is problematic for me because . . . well. . . I don’t like to practice. I lost the desire some time in high school. In middle school I was this super enthusiastic little kid who thought playing an instrument was amazing, was determined to be first chair, and spent over a thousand dollars of my own savings to buy a nice clarinet. In high school I had first chair wrapped up, the clarinet was a little too comfy and normal, and I had other things I was doing (mostly school work, but also other things!) So, less music = less to practice (when I actually practice) AND more times practicing the same pieces in rehearsal.

And based on this first rehearsal, I think I’m going to like orchestra even better than band. It could be the newness feeling. It could be that this will wear off. But I like the director, and the instrumentalists around me are all about my age, but also young-like. Don’t get me wrong. I like older people. I will hang out with much people older than me most any day, compared to those who are much younger. But these people seem to be different. It could be our music bond. We’re all band dorks. Again, I could just be on a brand-new-activity high. . .

The craziest part of all is that one of the clarinetists gave me his A clarinet to borrow. Just let me take it home. A complete stranger! I don’t know if I seem that trustworthy or if he is that awesome, but I am now the borrower of a huge clarinet case that houses my Bb clarinet and his A, like two little. . . clarinets in a pod.

I already got a compliment from a flautist and the director, and he told me he hopes to see me at next rehearsal, so I am looking forward to next week. And this was only sectionals. . . I can’t wait to get the experience of being in the midst of a full orchestra!

Image: Salvatore Vuono /

What a Change a Day Can Make

Is anyone else concerned about their extreme moodiness? I still haven’t decided if my increased mood swings are a result of my pills, living with my boyfriend, or job stress. Most likely it’s a combination of those. Anyway, I’m only 30. I’m not supposed to be having these issues yet. Or so they say. I have found this all both amusing and perplexing, especially as it relates my last week of concert band.

A little background:

Last year I was inspired by a meeting with an old friend from high school (Thanks, Facebook!) to start playing clarinet again. “You should still play! You were good,” he told me. That was all I needed, those magical words that any highly-competitive, creative person wants to hear. And that was just the nudge it took to pull out my old clarinet and get it refurbished (fixed up) after a lapse of 7 years. Some months later, I reconnected with my college band director (Again, thank you, Facebook!), who recommended a nearby community band (Thanks, Downers Grove!), and I showed up that first Tuesday night, nervous and eager to play.

Fast forward to last week (and my highs and lows):

Last Tuesday night:

Beginning of rehearsal: I’m chipper! Last weekend I had experimented with sanding some of my reeds a bit, and today I am able to play confidently, without struggle — many of my reeds were tough before, and with the confidence that I wouldn’t squeak (the scariest thing that could possibly happen to any clarinetist.)

Feelings: Band rocks! I feel great! Thank God I decided to do this again, despite its addition to “Hell Tuesdays”: morning meetings, followed by work, followed by tutoring, followed by grabbing a quick bite to eat, followed by two hours of band, ending in a half hour drive, and collapsing right into bed at 10PM.

Nearing end of rehearsal: I’m tired. It’s been a long day, and I’m exhausted (as noted in previous explanation of hellish Tuesday). My focus is off, and my mind wanders. I do the 2nd worst thing a clarinetist can do (or any instrumentalist, really): I play in the middle of a band-wide rest (i.e. I’m playing when I’m not supposed to, and the entire band is silent for that one short part, so EVERYONE notices you screw up). I claimed my mistake, recoiling from the director in shame with an instinctive “Sorry!”  This is our THIRD time in a row on that part, and a nearby flautist mumbles about how the director CLEARLY directed us to skip to the 2nd ending.

Feelings: I’m now embarrassed and also annoyed at mentioned nearby unsympathetic flute player (I’m tired!).  I have decided that band is a disaster; I don’t have time to practice; I don’t know how I make it through that long day; and I have a lot in my life to worry about right now. (I’m a stressed, over-worked elementary school teacher who could have a breakdown at any time! Just watch!) AND we have SECTIONALS next week. I feel like the director is looking right at me when he says we need to clean up our playing. Are we having sectionals because of ME?

And then the next week:

The Monday right before the next rehearsal: Still have left over feelings from the end of last week. Determined to get a good session of practicing in before the next day. (Late practice is better than no practice!)

Feelings: Wary but somewhat determined.

Actual practice session: Completely awful. EVERY SINGLE reed just will not work. I try sanding; I try sucking (adding moisture). I try EVERY SINGLE reed, and I try adjusting the ligature. NOTHING WORKS. I blow as hard as I can, and my embouchure (the seal I make with my mouth around the mouthpiece), goes to pot within five minutes.

Feelings: Infuriated. I swear at my reeds. I throw my reeds across the coffee table. I swear at the coffee table.  My clarinet.  I look for other things to swear at.  I grouch. I complain. My boyfriend vacates the area within minutes. Now I’m angry and frustrated because it’s no fun to vent to an empty room (dogs and cats excluded. . . oh wait, they’re gone, too).

Tuesday night rehearsal:

Feelings: Wary.

I’m stuffed full of a Big Mac that I know I shouldn’t eat and that I shoved down my mouth in 5 minutes before I ran out the door, so that I could arrive at rehearsal 3 minutes before start time (This, by the way, is awful timing for a clarinetist because we have MORE PIECES TO PUT TOGETHER THAN ANY OTHER INSTRUMENT IN THE ENTIRE BAND: bell, two middle pieces with the keys, barrel, mouthpiece, ligature, and REED.)

Not only was I late by clarinet standards, but we were doing sectionals today, so I plunked my butt down in my usual seat, surrounded by a sea of empty orange chairs. Thankfully an amused trumpet player smiled and told me woodwind sectionals were in the hall, gesturing in that general direction.

Added feelings: God, everyone must thing I’m a really “special” person. Last week I played in the middle of a rest, and this week I seem to think it’s perfectly normal that all of the other woodwind players are missing, except for me.

And yet. . .

Feelings at end of rehearsal:  Band rocks! Me and the other 2nd clarinetist rocked! My reed WORKED. (It was the second one I tried, and I didn’t DARE attempt another after what happened yesterday.) And to top it all off, we were complimented by the director of our sectional.

Life IS good.

That is, until tomorrow. . .

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