My mom always took me to orchestra concerts as much as possible. At the beginning sometimes they would have instruments set out that kids could try. I loved that because we didn’t have any music at my elementary school.
I started playing the violin in the third grade, right after I stopped taking ballet and swimming lessons. I wasn’t very good at practicing at first, but it was enough fun that it was something I wanted to continue. Not professionally or anything, but as an important part of my life.
I also started playing bassoon as part of a high school band class. Band was off the timetable, which meant that those of us who bothered to be at school at 7:30 AM twice a week were a pretty tight knit group. That’s probably the main reason that I stayed in it. I mean, I enjoyed playing bassoon, and the other instruments, but I doubt that I would have bothered going to school at that indecent hour if it wasn’t for the social aspect, since I was also taking violin lessons, playing in a string ensemble, and singing in a choir.
For some reason I really love the bassoon. I don’t really know why, since it’s kind of a pain sometimes. It’s a lot heavier than the violin, and has an absurd number of thumb keys. But I’m rather fond of it nevertheless.
When I graduated I bought a bassoon off of ebay, and was desperately searching for somewhere to play. My high school band teacher Ms. M did her very best, but there just wasn’t a chance to teach every student how to properly play their instrument. Besides, her primary instrument was flute. She was able to show me how to make a sound on the double reed, give me a fingering chart, point me towards some internet resources, and show me how to read bass clef, but it wasn’t until I joined the HMC that I was able to actually meet other people who play the bassoon.
Playing music is a really, really good de-stressor for me. If I’m stressed about school or life I can go in my room, shut the door, and play fiddle for a few hours. What’s amazing is that even if you haven’t been thinking about the thing that’s stressing you out, your brain’s been working on it while you’ve been playing and you’ll be much more able to address it afterwards.
I’m incredibly shy, and playing on my own in front of people terrifies me. Speaking on my own in front of people terrifies me. Playing in a group is fine, or acting is fine because I’m someone else. Music on my own is still frightening because I have to be myself, but in a group its not so bad. Especially because with the bassoon I’m a few rows back anyways, and there’s always a feeling of support from the others. I do worry sometimes about letting everyone down, but I have a huge amount of confidence in the other players and in the conductor. I know that if something goes wrong we can fix it, and there will always be someone there to catch me if I mess up.
This may sound cheesy but it’s totally honest: I’ve never felt as accepted and as a part of a group I do at the HMC. It’s not that I always feel really judged or like an outsider or anything – I usually feel okay around people. But moving out of home and across the country was a scary thing, and I wasn’t sure whether I’d get to know anyone. Finding the HMC right away has made such a difference by making that transition positive and fun. I actually look forward to Mondays!
Playing in an ensemble is an amazing experience of collaboration and teamwork. It doesn’t matter who is better than the other, because we are all working towards the same goal. You learn that the ability to listen is as important, or maybe more important, than the ability to play. There is probably some deep metaphor there somewhere, but anyways. I really, really love it.