Falling Notes

While I’m waiting to drop a big writing news-bomb, I give you this blog inspired by fellow writer, Kevin Craig (links at the end of the bit). Stay tuned.

MusicI am a high school band geek.

Or, rather, I was a high school band geek. Now that’s not to say I did nothing else. I was also on the track team and the swim team. The difference being, the music stayed with me over the years. I learned something more than just how to read those little black spots on the page and coax semi-pleasing sounds out of the clarinet and saxophone, I learned an appreciation.

The music we played, for the most part was music we teenagers would never listen to. Classics, for the most part. Occasionally we’d play a newer tune, like Sweet Caroline, but even it was an old tune at the time. The stage band played swing, the marching band played marches and the concert band prided itself on filling the auditorium each Christmas concert and getting top marks in the competitions.

It is a legacy that has lasted over the years, and fitting testament for our band/music teacher, of the perseverance and our love of music. It is a legacy that my wife and I handed down to our daughters. Both of whom followed in our footsteps. Both play clarinet and both show a passion for playing it well. In addition to band, both girls love singing and compete regularly.

So where and I going with this back patting? We attended our high school reunion this summer. We watched the new concert band play and were treated to a blast from the past when a handful of past music students, stage band members, got up and played.

It was then that I realized something. A rather sobering thought. When I looked back at how many kids stayed in music right up to grade 13, the year the school board deemed music class expendable, I am shocked by how many never pursued it beyond that. In grade 13 we sacrificed our lunch hour to take music. And it wasn’t just five or six students grade 13 students, it was all the grades.

Sure I know of some that still play in their spare time and even fewer that went on to eke a career out of it. But the others, myself and my wife included? We stopped.

Truth be told, I didn’t pick up a clarinet or saxophone again until my daughter started music class. Neither did my wife.

Over the years, I tried to teach myself guitar and piano, but I’m lousy at chords. I am a one note guy better suited to a wind instrument.

So why, if I learned so much more from music than I did from sports, did I give up on music? Because, if there was something out there for us to take, a course or something, it wasn’t made public knowledge. And, during that time, College and University was for learning a “useful” skill to apply to the work force. Remember I said the school board tried to cancel music altogether? So suffice it to say, they had no interest in it and as such, didn’t promote it. Instead I was forced into following what I did best in high school, math. Just math. No idea what to do with it, just keep taking it because it is a real course, a useful course.

Yes I gave up on music, but I retained what it taught me. It taught me to hear past the clutter and to find the real music. All genre’s have it, you just have to listen close to find it. Even rap or back metal.

That is a lesson of tolerance, of not judging a song by its infantile lyrics or its screechy vocalist, it’s about finding the guitar player or the bassist, keyboardist, drummer etc. that is supplying the soul.

It’s the same in life. People are like music. Some gentle and quiet, some (like myself) loud and in your face. It is up to us as listeners or observationalists or just simply as humans to see beyond the cover. Appreciate each other’s differences.

It is a rule I use in writing, not math. It’s funny how that worked out, isn’t it?

So let the music move you and do what you can to keep it alive. Can you imagine a world without music, or art or books? Me neither.

Want more on how music can change you? Visit Kevin Craig here. And at his music blog, All The Write Notes where he also talks about band geeks and music in general.

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About Dale Long

Writing ambushed me from the shadows. At first I pushed it aside as nonsense, but luckily my wife and two girls saw the potential. Since then I have had an article published by Metroland, placed as runner-up and in the top ten in humour writing contests and various other contests. The icing on the cake was placing as runner-up in the WCDR's Wicked Words contest (130 entries) and having my entry published in the contests anthology of the same name. My entry was an exerpt from my upcoming novel, Echoes.
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