Friday 20 March 2009

9th Period Life Lessons

I have spent the last 9 (1) years of my life playing music in concert band. I've played hundreds of pieces, from Ants Marching to Pirates of the Carribbean, Holst's Suite in F to Escape from Plato's Cave (2). Today I asked myself: what have I gained?

When you're 8 and you start to play in band for the first time, you almost always believe that you have the melody and need to play as loud as you possibly can. Everything you play sounds great to you - so why not bring it out? Everything on your page, even if it's just half notes, sounds like a melody.

You grow up a little, and one day you hear the flutes playing something, and it sounds fantastic. At this point you realize that maybe your part isn't the melody, maybe it doesn't need to be heard over everything else. Maybe your part is not the most important part. Maybe you have another purpose.

You hit high school, and learn about chords and chord functions, take a music theory class, and things start to make more sense. (3) By this time, you know that you're not the melody; maybe you're a counter melody that spices things up, or you're the root of the chord in the bass, or you're just a light, pretty little trill on top of everything else. You know now that you're not the melody, but that's okay, because you've found your place and you have another purpose.

It's the hardest thing, to have this part that sounds like a song to you by itself, to hear these whole notes and put huge meaning into them, and to not play out for the world to hear. To you, nothing else could top it, your part is so great, it has to be what's important! Somehow, You've got to let it go and do what's best for the piece as an overall product. When everyone does that though, it doesn't even matter what part you've got. You're now part of something bigger than yourself, bigger than your individual part. You're not just a A flat, you're a fifth in the most beautiful chord you've ever heard. You're a part of the man escaping Plato's cave and running into the light! And you're thinking: music can do this??

(1) Confession: I actually have no idea how long I've been in band. It's between 7-10 years.
(2) Other notable kick-ass band songs we've played include : Vesuvius (hands down most badass), Shenandoah (cried every time), Shadows of Eternity (would make an awesome blog subject), Russian Christmas Songs (those Russians can rock.), Brick House, and obviously the Family Guy Theme Song.
(3) Or, you just make videos of trolls and ghosts running around, attacking kids who don't play, to 12 tone!

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