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When I was in the fifth grade, my parents took me to a school meeting one night. My siblings were left with a neighbor. All of this was so unusual.
My Dad often worked fourteen hour days, and my Mom didn’t drive. As for using a babysitter, that was unheard of. But there we were, with a large (for our small country school) crowd.
We gathered in the lunchroom, where folding chairs were set up auditorium-style.
My parents didn’t share a lot of information with us kids, so I had no idea what was happening.
Then some magic began to unfold on the small school stage.
One by one, various people came up onto the stage, carrying a musical instrument. They each gave a little speech describing the instrument, then played a short solo.
Afterwards, my parents turned to me and asked, “Which instrument do you want to learn to play?”
I was giddy with excitement. Unfortunately, my first choice (alto saxophone) was too expensive, even on a long payment plan. My second choice was acceptable, however, and that’s how I became a beginning trombonist!
It also introduced me to the world of music in general.
You see, in my childhood home, only the parents were allowed to use electronics. I was allowed to listen to Mom’s radio news shows in the mornings. In the evenings, Dad would watch the television news and, occasionally, Ed Sullivan or a family-safe situation comedy.
Once in a very blue moon, Mom would watch the Lawrence Welk show.
Now I loved the musical pieces on those shows – yes, even the accordion polkas – but I couldn’t figure out how they made the music.
You know how you don’t know enough about a subject to ask for an explanation of it? Well, I didn’t understand how other people could see what those people on television were doing.
It wasn’t until another year or two had passed, and a school nurse sent home a note, that I was taken to the eye doctor. I received my first set of glasses a week or so later and my world completely changed.
I was nearsighted with astigmatism. Those people on the small television sets of the early 1960s showed as sort of messy swipes with little form in my brain.
With glasses I was able to recognize not only the people, but some of what they were doing also. I was amazed.
But meanwhile, I found out how they made that music – something that I had wondered about and asked about for years.
My beginning bleats on that trombone were far from the dulcet tones produced by an orchestra, but I could feel the connection. I knew that with time, practice and care, I could produce music.
I was totally enchanted.
Now I no longer play music. Malformation of some of my joints and other duties have called me away from music production. I still however have a deep love for music.
One of the joys of my life is that my two offspring sing beautifully. They often sing duets, just for the sheer joy of it. And I reap the benefits.