I'm on a stepping stone
I don't ever remember Andy playing the trumpet; I know he did, but it obviously wasn't that important to him or our family. But I do remember going with Kevin to the instrument drive at Wilder, where the future 5th graders of Schertz, Texas would get to choose their fate. Because lets face it, if you were going to be successful in life, you were going to take band (or play football, but Kevin couldn't and I was a girl). He wanted to be in band like the rest of his classmates, but knew his disability wouldn't allow him to play most instruments. His claim was he would "make the flute a manly instrument", but he couldn't even hold it up, and we laughed at him. So his last option: percussion. He at least could use one hand to hit some stuff and make noise. Through thin walls, I heard every clanging of bells and thwomping on his practice pad on days my mom sat him down to rehearse. I hated it.
I knew somewhere in the back of my brain that my mom had played clarinet. But more importantly she was on drill team. That's what I was going to. Dance. I practiced and practiced and hoped that one day I would join the infamous Belles drill team when I entered high school. But when I went into 5th grade and had the prospect of joining band, there was this unspoken agreement I would play clarinet like my mom. My mom, being the smart woman she is, wouldn't let me make such a quick decision. So on the special instrument drive night, she drove me to Wilder, and I got to experience all the instruments. The volunteers rated us all where they thought we would be best. If you got a I, you should definitely think about playing that instrument. If you got a III, maybe not. I started with flute and got a III right off the bat. I jumped to some brass. More III's. Kevin tried to convince me to go to the percussion room, but was unsuccessful. Saving it for last, I made my way to the clarinet room. With excited and anxious hands, I put the clarinet in my mouth and blew. It didn't sound as I had expected, but I wasn't half bad! And it wasn't as hard as everyone was making it out to be. The kind woman helping us took my paper and wrote something and handed it back. She wrote a I! I couldn't believe it! It was meant to be! I had no other option than to play clarinet after such a revealing moment. After showing my mom, she registered me for band.
That next weekend, I begged my mom for a clarinet. I wanted to get my hands on a precious clarinet. It was now summer and I needed to be prepared for band. So after much nagging on my part, she searched high and low for her clarinet and finally found it hiding away in our downstairs bathroom closet. Handing me the aged and dusty case, I struggled to open it, but inside was the instrument of my dreams. I didn't even know where to begin; I had no idea what I was doing. My dad then stepped in, claiming he had taken clarinet lessons as a young adolescent, "just because he could", but he wasn't that impressive on it. My mom took it from him and I begged her to play something. She must know what to do, I thought, but all she could remember was Mary Had a Little Lamb. Of course. After such a difficult song, she handed me the clarinet and let my play on it. To her best knowledge, she attempted to explain how I should try to play it, and I remembered what I did at the instrument drive. With our combined efforts, I made a sound and a few squeaks here and there, but I couldn't do much after that. I was so young, and the clarinet was like a foreign language. I didn't know how to speak it yet.
After a few minutes it came easier, but I became tired, not yet having the strong lungs and embouchure I do now. With school soon starting, I wondered what band would be like. Mom walked me through what a day might be like and what I would do on my first day. I distinctly remember her saying, "You'll walk in, and everyone will be setting up their instruments. Find your section, sit down and the first thing you do is put your reed in your mouth to get it wet. Don't worry, everyone else will be doing the same thing. Then set up your clarinet like I showed you."
And she was right. From then on, I was a clarinet player. I always identified myself with the band. I wasn't always dancing, but I was always playing Clarry. And eventually Coco Chanel was added to the family. I never realized it would end so soon. Unfortunately, the time has come where they will be put in my closet, neighboring my battered dance shoes, only to be pulled out when I want memories to surface. My only hope is that one day, my children will have the same interest I did and ask if they can play my clarinet. Unlike my mom, I however will be able to play them a concerto because I still love it as much and never gave it up.
"You do care. You care so much you feel as though you will bleed to death with the pain of it."
-JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, p. 824