Monday, June 7, 2010

What's a Bassoon?

It all started with my grandmommy who used to be a piano teacher. She taught her children to play, and then my dad and mom decided that their children should learn to play piano too. So Sarah Margaret, Dennis, and I took lessons. I only ended up taking lessons for three years. In that time I had three different teachers. I hated piano lessons. We had lessons once a week and the three of us would all go in a row. That meant that we had to sit at the teacher's house for two extra lessons. It was so boring. Every other day of the week we had to practice for 30 minutes. Looking back, 30 minutes a day does not sound like that much, but at the time it seemed like an eternity. I spent the majority of my 30 minutes whining and crying at the piano. However, I did learn to read music which I am thankful for because that lead me to join the band in middle school.

In elementary school we started playing recorders in fourth grade. It was very exciting and I can still play "Hot Crossed Buns" with my eyes closed. Then, at the end of 5th grade the middle school band teacher came to our music class and we got to pick which instrument we wanted to play in band starting in 6th grade. I looked at the list of instruments and nothing spoke to me. Then I saw the word "bassoon" listed in the woodwind section. I had never even heard of a bassoon, so of course I put a check mark next to it and waited anxiously for 6th grade band when I would find out what a bassoon was and how to play it. There was only one other person who had signed up to play bassoon, his name was Matt Uhl. We became pretty good friends and even developed little middle school crushes on each other. One day in class I guess he was feeling extra romantic and this is what he told me: "If I could collect all the snot that I have either sucked up, spit out, or blown out of my nose, it would probably fill a stadium." He sure did have a way with words, but we were never an item.

After 6th grade I left Chickahominy Middle School and moved to Bluestone Middle School. The band director there had not had a bassoon player in 20 years. However, this worked to my advantage because he had to buy a brand new bassoon for me to play. It was beautiful. Also, he pretty much had no idea what a bassoon was supposed to sound like so he just gave me A's on all my playing tests in class. In 8th grade my bassoon playing skills took my all the way to All District Band. I made 4th chair. I know that sounds good, but only 6 people tried out and they took 5. The 5th chair guy had a bassoon with parts falling off of it and he could not play the music. I can't even imagine what the 6th guy sounded like. All District Band was a weekend event. We skipped school on Friday and learned our music all day Friday and Saturday, then our parents came for a concert on Saturday night. For band geeks, this is heaven. For me, this was torture. Also, on a bassoon you have to hold it up by sitting on a butt strap. I just happened to forget my butt strap that weekend. By lunch time on Friday my arms were killing me from holding it up all day. So, Friday night I borrowed a pocket knife and punched a new hole in my leather belt and fashioned my own butt strap.

Marching band started in high school, but you cannot march with a bassoon. So for parades I started playing the cymbals. I can play "O Come All Ye Faithful" pretty darn well on the cymbals. I also started playing bass guitar so I could join a punk rock band, which I have yet to do. Now I am learning the banjo so I can start a bluegrass band, which I also have yet to do.

When I changed schools in 10th grade I stopped playing bassoon. I was pretty good after playing from 6th-9th grade. And how many people can say that played bassoon for four years? I mean most people don't even know what a bassoon is.