Thursday 24 August 2023

Me and the Trombone

    A university friend and I have been trading memories of our youth over the internet and have discovered that we had a lot in common.  One of them was that during those early years, we both played the trombone.  Gary’s trombone experiences were a lot different than mine.  He thrived with the instrument; competing, and performing.  My experience was not so positive.

    Even from my very early years, I loved music, but the time I had to spend with the trombone was not something that added to that love.  In fact, it set it back. 

    When I reached the age to be in our elementary school band class, my parents signed me up.  Everyone asked me what instrument I wanted to play, and to me, a trumpet seemed like that would be a cool thing.  However, when the band teacher inspected my lips, it was determined that they were too big for a trumpet, and it was suggested that I should play the trombone instead, something that wasn’t even on my radar.

    So I began several years of lugging a trombone case back and forth on the school bus, along with all my my school books and supplies.  It was not something that endeared me to the instrument.  

    My parents got me a secondhand trombone, I mean, a really secondhand trombone.  While all the other three trombonists in the school band had shiny sparkling brass instruments, mine was a dullish, silver-colored, plated trombone, well broken in.

    The connection to musical notes on the page, to the position of the trombone’s slide, did not come easy for me, and I struggled.  I learned some of the positions, but sometimes, I had to glance over to the trombone kid next to me, to see where he was positioning the slide.  

    The thing that really killed any enjoyment of playing, was the practicing at home.  The band teacher had a strict policy of practicing a half an hour every night.  We had to bring a signed note from a parent every week, outlining how much we had practiced.  I hated having to be in the house blowing into the trombone, while there were so many more interesting things that the time could have been spent doing.  If you practiced an hour, you got “Extra Credit”, but for me, that was not even within my realm of reality.

    After a year and a bit, my parents bought me a better used trombone.  It was shiny brass, and when I received it, I loved it immediately and thought I would eagerly play the trombone forever.  Unfortunately, the nightly practice at home, quickly smothered that thought.  

    When I finally reached the age when I started high school with all of its new classes and schedules, I was happy to “sacrifice” my trombone playing to pursue more interesting subjects.

    Like I said, I always loved music, and by my second year in high school, I had saved my money and bought a banjo, and I was eager to spend all of my free time teaching myself how to play it.

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