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In 2004 I was sitting in the stands at my son’s little league game. One of the other moms, Nancy Ninnemann, who I also know from Boy Scouts, was talking about paying the flute. I told her I played the flute in High School, she immediately said “why aren’t you in the Community Band”. After a bit of arm twisting I agreed to come to a rehearsal.
I had not played with an organized group in almost 25 years and had not played more than a few notes in 20 years. I pulled my flute out of the closet and put it together. The Cork on the head joint was loose but it still worked and I could play a scale from memory. Remembering how to play it was like riding a bicycle, no problem. However remembering how to read music proved to be a bit more challenging, I pulled out my fingering chart and went to rehearsal a couple days later.
When I arrived at rehearsal there were about 30ish musicians there, other than Nancy I only knew one other person, Cecilia Bellinghiere, also from Boy Scouts. Nancy had a chair and stand ready for me, and when I sat down she handed me a folder of music. OMG! What did I get myself into? Lots and lots of lines and black dots, I was completely overwhelmed. I looked at Nancy and said “Middle line is a B, right?”.
One of the pieces we rehearsed that night was The Liberty Bell by John Phillip Sousa… lots of black dots were on the page. I must have had the ‘deer in the headlights’ look on my face, Nancy assured me I would recognize the tune. We began… the Monty Python Theme! And right where the Monty Python Theme stops and spits a raspberry the conductor, Don Cushman, stopped us. If I had only known these people like I do now I would have filled in the empty air with the classic raspberry.
I practiced often that spring, windows open, torturing my husband and neighbors. I remember after a week or so my husband comment that it’s starting to sound like music. YAY, it was coming back. I went to a few more rehearsals, performed in a parade, a concert, then summer break. During the break I sent my flute at a shop for a tune up.
Even though there was a near 25 year break all that knowledge was still there. The marches on little pieces of paper are harder to see than I remember, I have to blow up them to read the notes. Playing pieces I had memorized in high school was a little weird too. I would get to a part I still remembered then lose where I was on the music in front of me. Within a year I purchased a metal piccolo for parades, eventually becoming 2nd piccolo, and roping my husband into pulling the band on a trailer in the local parades. In 2012 we lost our primary piccolo player, Norma Foster, to cancer, I moved to her chair, I think about her often and always try to live up to her example.
It’s 2018, I have two jobs, a weekend ski pass, my husband and I spend most summer weekends in our RV, we fish, bicycle, and I have band. I’m the Librarian, Vice President, the JHCB Website Administrator, and a much better musician than I was in high school. As busy as my life is, I can not imagine my life without music, music is good for the soul. And the friends I have made in Community Band are like an extended family.
Did this make you reminisce about your years in High School or College Band? Do you miss a life with music in it? Why aren’t you in the Jackson Hole Community Band? Rehearsals are 7pm at the Center for the Arts, in the performing arts wing. Dust off your instrument and join us. Don’t live in Jackson Hole? Many towns have a community band, do an internet search and see what’s near you. Covina has one, Covina Concert Band. And if you ever visit Jackson Hole, bring your instrument and sit in with us!
Halloween Concert 2017 Flute Section: Sammy Douville, Noah Osnos, Anna Senecal, Nancy Ninnemann , Holly Balogh, Julie (Krejci) Wilson
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