Thursday, July 5, 2012

Why I love the Flute

So, today I'm going to talk about my experience with band.  Now, I started playing the flute when I was just a little fifth grader at Thoreau Park elementary.  Now, if you are band person, you are probably thinking, "just another one of the 30 something flute players".  However, in my defense, when I was choosing my instrument I was picking between flute, clarinet, and saxophone.  Saxophone seemed a little bit too heavy and too loud, and everyone I knew at the time, played clarinet.  So, I thought I was being unique.  Besides, there was just something that I loved about how the flute looked and sounded.  I signed up for bandmarching and soon I had possession of my own shiny silver flute, (well ok, I was renting it, but whatever).  It ended up being significantly harder than I thought.  If you don't know, the hardest part of a flute is learning to make a sound at all.  Generally, you use the same technique you would use to blow on a plastic bottle and make a sound.  Practice was hard.  I found out that the flute takes more air than any other wind instrument.  Our little class of beginning flutes often had to fight dizziness as we tried valiantly to master "Go Tell Aunt Rhodie" and "Mary had a Little Lamb".  I had no idea how hard reading music could be.  It's sort of like it's own language.  However, I kept at it and was rewarded by playing at my concert, complete with the impressive black metal music stands.  I still remember my Dad telling me that he though that the flute was the prettiest instrument to listen to, and how excited I was that I had chosen such a good instrument.  

I began to love everything about band.  I loved that the flutes got to sit in the first row.  I loved hearing all the instruments come together and create a song.  I loved the loud crash of the beginning drummers who had no concept of volume.  I still remember my last elementary school concert.  Our band teacher decided to play along with us on his trumpet.  This was much to the dismay of my friend Alex and I who were seated right under it and the steady drips of spit that fell alarmingly close to us.  I seem to remember we spent most of that concert steadily moving farther and farther back as we tried to stop laughing so that we could actually play.  Actually, Alex and I spent a lot of time trying desperately to stop laughing so that we could play.  At one concert at the board office, I remember we bumped our stand causing it to fling our music everywhere.  Needless to say, we couldn't look at each other for the rest of the performance.  

In middle school and high school, band was pretty much where I made all of my friends.  There's just something about band kids, we all stick together.  I was a part of both marching band and concert band for all four years of high school.  In that time I learned how to march in a perfectly straight line (hopefully), what it was like to audition in the center of an empty band room with the assistant director just staring at you (terrifying), I learned, luckily not from personal experience, that wearing white socks to a concert had the power to induce soul stealing rage from our assistant director, and mostly I learned how to really enjoy music and get better at it.  

Band was the source of so many of my amazing memories from high school.  From the soliloquy about mud I wrote during a particularly rainy marching season, to the time our band director caught Alex and I twirling down in our long, black (semi-amish) concert skirts.  

However, band did not just give me amazing memories, it taught me love music and the creation of it.  There was one piece in particular that really taught me this.  My friend Natalia transposed the extremely beautiful violin quartet so that it could be played with two flutes and two clarinets.  We played that quartet all throughout high school.  It was the most beautiful piece I have ever played.  It is called Believe by Yuki Kajiura.  The song was written for the anime Tsubasa.  Somehow, this quartet just really exemplifies to me what music should be.  Music should be something that makes you feel something, and whenever I hear or play this song I feel joy and hope.  

Here is a link to the violin version of the song.  I wish there was a video of our instrumentation, but it is still beautiful.  Enjoy.



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