When I was in sixth grade (yes, folks, we’re going way back here), I started taking clarinet lessons. Yes, Middle School band. Well, it was orchestra where I went to school. You get the point. I decided on the clarinet because that’s what my beloved big brother had played in junior high. By starting in sixth grade, I was two years behind most of my peers. But I practiced a lot, and caught up fairly quickly. I won’t kid you though…it was middle school. Have you ever heard a middle school band/orchestra? Yeah, that.
In high school, I decided band wasn’t for me, but went into the high school orchestra. By sophomore year, I was first chair clarinet, and stayed there three years. I was part of our competitive chamber ensemble. I joined the county honor orchestra. I had the opportunity to play in the pit for two of our drama department’s productions. There were performances at local elementary schools, competitions, performances at school events and graduations, and our annual Christmas and Spring recitals. We went to see the San Francisco Symphony every year. Classical music was part of my life. I knew Mozart, Strauss, Beethoven, Handel, etc, etc, etc.
I continued to play for a year after I graduated high school. Then my clarinet went in its case into my closet, where it stayed. It came with me through many moves. But I never played it again.
When music lessons – school band – became available for the Princess, she chose the clarinet. I didn’t offer mine, knowing it would need work after so much time. I rented a clarinet for her from the local music store. I totally thought I would be able to hold it, put the mouthpiece in my mouth, and just be able to play again. Um, yeah, not so much. I couldn’t get a single sound, besides that awful clarinet squeak, to come out. I was shocked and sad. How could I forget something that had been such a huge part of my life for nine years, something I was good at?
The Princess only played the clarinet for about a year. Eventually, we donated the instrument to the school, it having done nothing more than catch dust for three years. It made me a little sad. It made me wonder if I did pull out my clarinet and really tried, if it would all come back. I’m almost embarrassed to even try. I certainly won’t try with anyone else in the house to hear it. Hah!
I did start listening to classical music again recently. I guess I’m old. It’s been like revisiting an old friend, familiar pieces taking me back to high school. The music is calming, and brings a certain piece. The kids are not fans. They thought I’d lost my mind the first time I turned it on with them in the car. I wish they had an appreciation for it. In that area, along with many others, I’ve obviously failed them. Maybe some day, they’ll understand.
I still have my clarinet. It sits in its case on a shelf in my closet. I can’t make myself get rid of it. Even if I never play it again, it’s part of my past, a huge part of who I am, and how I came to be the person I am today.