If you have read my bio page on this blog you will see that I have traveled the world as a musician, and performed with some incredible groups and people. If not, please do so before reading the rest of this entry.
I mentioned that this blog was going to be brutally honest. It is only fair that while being brutally honest I can do so with myself and my own life. So let me begin.
Like most I was involved in music in some form beginning in elementary school. When I was in elementary school music classes were quite different than what I see in the local public schools. My experience was based in the Orff and Kodály methods where students are taught to sing, play instruments, improvise, and dance from memory. Today, it appears that music classes are built around some performance such as national holidays, drug awareness, of graduation from elementary school. The days of playing rhythms on sticks, dancing (except for square dancing), clapping, and musical games are gone … it is now all about the show.
As elementary school progressed I was put into one of the classes where you were given an instrument and received weekly lessons. These weekly lessons were in a large group and probably received about five or ten minutes of individual instruction within the group. The instrument given to me was trumpet and I hated it. I did not like the sound and I had tremendous difficulties since I had to use my right hand fingers to move the valves. This difficulty is due to an extreme left-hand dominance I have and it felt very unnatural. Due to these minor issues practice was not part of my days. In fact, not one person taught me how to practice in these classes.
I had other things I enjoyed so much more. Reading was the most important to me. I could not get enough. While the books I was reading at that early age may have been Dr. Suess or the ever ubiquitous Hardy Boys, I just could not get enough. I would read in class, read while walking, read while eating, or any time I could hold a book in my hands. That was my time.
Even though I did not practice much, through some natural ability, I was able to play what was needed. Either that or the expectations were extremely low, and that is a high possibility. I ended up playing in the school orchestra, band, all-city orchestra, and all-city band. To this day I have no idea how that was possible but one should realize I was at the bottom of the section. Yes, there needs to be someone there to play that part but I was not there because I was good at that part. This continued into Jr. High as my musical life continued along this path for some time.
Jr. High is a strange time for young boys and girls. The body is changing as well as the mind. Music though stayed the same for me. It was boring and the band teacher was quite mean. As I think back to those days there never seemed to be any teaching. Just a man in front with a salt and pepper beard telling me how bad I was doing. I remember often getting called on to play by myself while the rest of the band listened. Oh, what a panic that was to hear, “Michael! Have you practiced that line? Play it for us.” Disaster every time my name was called. This was my life as a young musician and I am sure that many had the same experience, and it was not a good way to teach and instill confidence in a young person.
Time to stop for now as that is the end of the “Early Years”. Middle years will be coming up soon and those are much more interesting.