Steathily trying to avoid the humdrum of everyday life.

Monday, September 26, 2011

3 Months in Which I Did Not Learn the Euphonium (Part 1)

Upon joining my high school concert band I realized that I had made a terrible mistake. In previous years of band there had always only been two or three percussionist. Now there were six. My friend who had also joined with me, planned on joining the percussion section and found herself in a similar predicament. There were two drummer who had seniority over us and two other first time drummers.

Around the second or third day of class the music teacher approached me and my friend with a proposal. The band was much too small to be able to support six percussionist. He wanted to know if we would consider playing a different instrument. I only knew how to read percussion sheet music, which had no scale and my friend had no experience with sheet music at all. But with the chances of us ever being able to play anything interesting in the percussion section were next to nothing. We decided that we would be game to learn a different instrument.

At first I was a little excited to learn a different instrument. Percussion was fun, I was good at it but it always seemed so different compared to the what all the other kids did. I was excited to learn just about any other instrument. My first pick was saxophone or clarinet. Those looked the like the most fun to me. Unfortunately things did not work out as I had hoped they would.

My high school band was not huge. There was only around 25 of us total. Breaking it down there were about 10 kids in the woodwind section(saxophones and clarinets ) and 10 kids in the brass section(trumpets and trombones). And then us in the percussion section.

The discussion about what instrument we were interested in playing went something like this:

Band Teacher: What would you two like to play?

Me: Saxophone would be pretty cool.

Band Teacher: We already have a saxophone player though.

Me: Okay well what about clarinet?

Band Teacher: We already have three of those.

At this point I was starting to become a little concerned. Was he going to do this for every instrument that someone was already playing? Though the band was small almost every instrument already had representation. Was he just not going to let us play anything?

Me: Well then, what can we learn?

Band Teacher: Have you considered playing the euphonium? 

No. No I had not considered playing the euphonium. For starters I had no clue what a euphonium was. When he said euphonium my mind jumped to something that would come out of a Doctor Seuss book.

 I would have actually been pretty okay with playing this thing.

My music teacher seemed very excited about me and my friend leaning how to play the euphonium. So in turn we became a excited if not a little wary.

Me: What is euphonium?

Band Teacher: It a brass instrument, it a bit bigger and lower sounding that a trumpet. 

About now all my enthusiasm was slowly leaking out of me like I was a balloon with a hole. I'm pretty sure that I may have even been making a similar noise as I slowly breathed out the air that I had been, unknowingly up to this point, holding. I also was noticing the frankly huge case that was sitting next to my teachers chair. Up until this point I had just assumed it was a random instrument case laying around as instrument cases tend to do in music classrooms. Now I realized we had been tricked and trapped.

It's like mini portable tuba.

I intend no offense to any euphonium players out there, but to my young high schooler mind this was a horrible instrument. It was huge, and suspiciously looked like a tuba, something of which I have never even thought about wanting to play. I wanted to play something classy like a saxophone or something snazzy like a trumpet or something like a flute. Anything but this monstrosity that he had just whipped out of it's case.

Me and my friend are now looking at each other with panic and horror. This is not what we had thought was going to happen when we agreed to learn another instrument. This was the absolute worse scenario that we could have possibly conceived.

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