After our community band’s back to back concerts last weekend we’ve had a week off. And as usual when I’m not up against a time constraint, not pushed to my limits, not facing epic failure, I didn’t practice my instrument at all. Not once. All week. I did take it out and clean it a bit. And I thought about practicing, surely that counts. So I had a somewhat pleasant jolt earlier in the week when our director sent an email out to everyone thanking us for two great performances, telling us how much she enjoyed Saturday morning when we played at the Community Band Festival, how she was honored to work with such a fine group of musicians.
I have never thought of my self as a musician. A musician practices daily, does exercises that aren’t any fun, limbers up fingers, breathes from the diaphragm, tightens the embouchure, can hear whether notes are flat or sharp and can fix it. None of that describes me now or at any time in my past.
She made me smile when I read her email because it had been fun, that early morning concert – the applause that seemed to last forever, the good feeling we had watching her take another bow, the celebratory singing on the way home. It was all fun, and I wouldn’t get to do that, experience that from my place in middle age, without a Community Band. I’m lucky we have one near my town, lucky that our director is exacting and can choose a good program, lucky to play with other folks who are so talented. Just plain lucky.
I was watching PBS a bit this afternoon. They were doing a show called “My Music” with groups of middle aged and older once upon a time famous (and some still famous) folks singing music from the 50’s and 60’s. I didn’t have any problem thinking of them as musicians, and as I watched the grey haired, slightly rotund musicians throw themselves lovingly into their performance I realized I was watching more of the lucky ones, the ones that get to keep doing the thing they love.
So here’s to all the musicians out there. The famous ones and the not so famous, the has beens and the never really made its. And to all of us who never quite considered ourselves to be musicians at all. We might just be the most lucky because we do it for nothing more than the sheer joy of making something so beautiful it lasts forever in our hearts.
She sent an email to thank us for being fine musicians. I think we need to say thank you back to her…for pushing us to be musicians at all.