Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I'm Thankful For...


When I was a mere five years old, I convinced my mom to allow me to take piano lessons. I can still remember my instructor. She would come to my house once a week & we'd go in to my parents bedroom where the piano was kept for my lessons. I loved my lessons. There was only one problem...I did not love learning to read music. In fact, I didn't learn at that point. I was reading the fingering numbers. Of course, my instructor did figure this out a few months after we had started. I was only five years old at the time. She switched to a book that had no fingering numbers. I floundered. I thought it too hard. I begged my mom to quit. I was five remember. And she let me.

I still remember seeing my instructor though. Not only did she attend the same area church as we did but she was also the music instructor for our school district. So once a week I remember her coming to my kindergarten class to teach us all about music. I remember being shy around here because I felt bad about quitting. She was always nice to me though.

Fast forward six years. In our school district, starting in the fifth grade, every child is allowed to start band. In my family, in the fifth grade, every child in my family is allowed to play in the band on the clarinet and only the clarinet.

You may ask, "Why only the clarinet?" Good question! Simply because that was the only instrument we owned. A neighbor had older children & had given it to us. Every one of us played the clarinet for at least one year - fifth most likely - while we were growing up. My oldest brother (eight years older than me) played it during his fifth grade year. Then he quit. My older sister (five years older) played. I have the marching band pictures to prove all this by the way, but I'm being nice & not digging them out to scan & post them. Then my other brother (four years old than me) also played - in fifth grade. See the picture forming?

Then I came along. I love music. I love everything about it. It's one of my "languages." I understand it. It calms me. In fifth grade, I joined band and one very important thing happened...I learned to read music.

I played the clarinet at school & diligently practiced at home. But I also started going in to my parents bedroom to play around on the piano. I began looking at some old student books my mom had laying there (she had played a bit as well) & began to teach myself. There is only one problem with this...I could only read the treble clef since that is all the clarinet calls for. I had no clue on the bass clef & couldn't figure it out from the book.

I began to ask my mom about lessons again. She made a stipulation. I had to call up my former teacher & ask her myself. ::shudder:: However, the desire to learn overcame any fears I had about it & I did just that. Unfortunately, she did not have any openings during the school year, but she did agree to take me on during the summer months. I did that for a few years & progressed.

During my seventh grade year I became frustrated with band & my director and quit. Which was actually a good thing. My younger sister (about two years younger than me) was in fifth grade and needed the clarinet to do her requisite year of band - which she did. Then she quit & I took it back in eighth grade.

I continued to play in the band (regular band, pep band, & jazz band). I was also continuing with my piano during the summers until 8th grade as well. That is when my teacher (Mrs. House) had an opening during the school year. I used to walk down to the main street in town & she would pick me up on her way by from getting her children at the local Christian school. I'd go home, she'd settle her kids down & I'd have my half hour lesson. Then my dad would come pick me up. I loved my lessons.

I also sang in the choir from fifth grade to my senior year. Did I mention how much I love music?

While in high school, I also began playing piano for jazz band rather than my clarinet. I never felt I was good enough with it, but I did all right. I was never great at improve with it though & I still remember trying to figure out Joy to the World (the "Jeremiah was a bull frog" version). There were something like 12 bars of improve for the piano as an intro. I never got it so we started the song where everyone else came in. ::sigh::

Then at one point - sophomore year I think - we had no trombones for our pep band. None. A good brass section is kind of important when you are cheering on your basketball team. (We did not have football at my school - long story.) So our band director asked if anyone was willing to learn how to play. Just enough for the songs we needed for pep band & just that year as there was a great brass section coming up the next year from the middle school. I volunteered along with two of my good friends. Talk about funny. I played clarinet, Tara played flute, & Heidi played the bass drum. But we played trombone during pep band and had a blast. Although, I still have to laugh. I'm short people. I have short arms! It was always funny when I had to play the note that required the slide to be all the way out! LOL I would just usually throw my arm down there as far as I could reach & pray for the best. I was never so happy to see freshman join my band in the fall! ;-)

My junior year I was second chair clarinet. Believe me, the girl who played first chair was amazing! But my senior year, that was me, first chair. Yikes! It was fun but sometimes very stressful.

I loved playing in a band. I loved playing the piano. I loved singing. I loved my clarinet.

Sadly, I kept up with none of those things once I left high school. Something that was such a part of me was no longer there. At times I really felt the loss. As I've grown older, I've felt it more & more. The thing I regret the most is the loss of my skills.

I can barely remember the fingerings any more for the clarinet. I've had to remind myself on notes. I can barely play anything on the piano. It's just sad.

A couple years ago I decided to change all that. I asked my husband for a guitar for Christmas with the plans to teach myself how to play. That has not been going well. But I also just bought an adapter recently for my keyboard & I've started playing with that a bit. I also volunteered to sing a song for the "special music" at church some time in the new year.

Music is too much a part of me for me to let it go. I'm trying to get it back...piece by piece. Um, no pun intended.


  1. It's good to hear you're not giving up on music yet! Keep at it!

  2. That is cool! :) Maybe someday I will get to hear you play!

  3. I took lessons for years and then quit, too. One day I am going to take lessons again and hopefully regain all that I have lost over the years! I hope that you regain anything you have forgotten quickly!!!!! Also, YEAH for your solo at church. I used to sing at the church I grew up in and loved it! We now go to a church of about 3000, so I don't think they will be asking me to sing anytime soon!!!! WHEW!!!!:) Singing in front of that many would probably not be so much fun!

  4. Like you, music has always been SO important for me. It was part of our family as well - mom sang and played guitar, dad sang, played guitar, drums, bass...whatever was needed. When I was little, dad's income came from his band "Neil and the Wildcats" (lol!). So music was bound to be part of my life.

    Unlike you, I never learned to play the piano. I started on trumpet and stuck with it - and 32 years later, I am still playing it. Along the way I've learned guitar, flute, clarinet, saxaphone and a teeny tiny bit of drums. And of course, I sing.

    It's my goal to be part of the praise team at every church I attend (since we have to move so much). And so far, I have met that need. I played in Atlanta, sang in Germany, did theatrics in Augusta (as part of the creative arts team) and here I'm on the praise team playing once again.

    It's a gift that God gives us...and how we use it is important. I don't go on the stage to get the kudos for me...I go up for the glory of God....I always say before I play: with His glory, to His glory, FOR His glory. Because it's only with Him that I can be up there!

  5. Great post, Lisa! I'm so impressed that you're able to carve out some time for blogging with all the other things that need attention. I LOVED hearing about your musical history. Makes me want to take a few minutes to tell my story! You're such an inspiration.


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