A Memory

I think it was the summer before my junior year in high school that I didn’t really put much effort into playing the trumpet… I had played since sixth grade, and had never had to work too hard to have a good sound and play decently.

At this point, I think I had taken it a bit too much for granted, and so practicing had dropped quite low on my list of activities the summer before junior year.

I had also just spend a chunk of the summer studying in Spain, so my focus was more on Spanish – a subject I did not study in school – than on preparing for August chair placements for band.

My brother picked me up from the audition/chair test – he was an alum of the school, and so had spent a bit of time looking around while we were doing the test – and drove me on his motorcycle to a dance class.  I wasn’t taking the dance class, but I was working the welcome desk for it, in exchange for a free group class of my choosing later on… I also had the added benefit of watching this class happen, and learning from the seated sidelines.

Basically, I was focused on doing my best to live frugally with dance, because I was all too aware of my family’s financial situation – well, my mom’s side, anyway… my dad’s was a different story, but I functioned with the mind of one with extremely limited funds, so that’s why I was spending hours of my time working the welcome table at dance classes, in exchange for a ten-dollar class…

Anyway, so I rushed from the chair test to the dance class, loving the first ride on my brother’s motorcycle – while simultaneously being terrified(!) – and had asked a classmate to send me a text message with the results, when they came out in another ten or so minutes.

I was placed absurdly low in terms of capability…, and it hurt my spirit a lot.

But, I imagine, it was entirely valid based on the amount of practice I had put into it all.

I had begun this with a certain incident in mind, but I am not wondering if that incident was even that year… I am beginning to think it was the following year, my senior year, that this incident happened…, but I’m really not sure.

I shall continue with the incident, nonetheless…

So, I was placed after this one kid, who had become a semi-distant friend of mine.  We sat side-by-side five mornings a week for 45 minutes, and chatted here and there, so we were comfortable with one another’s company, but we didn’t spend time together outside of band, right?

Anyway, I had liked being in the Jazz Band, and you had to be placed so high in the count of trumpets in order to be included in the Jazz Band each year.  I had placed one below what was included in Jazz Band membership.  So, I initiated a challenge.  The two band directors each picked a selection of our current music, and told us to prepare to play those and any two scales that they would say at the challenge.

The day of the challenge arrived.  I played beautifully for the selections, and my sound quality was stellar.  The guy had incredibly powerful sound, though with a very odd and un-musical edge to it all, as usual.  The scales they selected, naturally, involved playing really high… something which I was not great at doing, but that usually didn’t matter at our area in the chair placements (higher notes for higher chairs), and I could play the ones that popped up in our music… what’s more, this kid and I played off the same sheet and stand, meaning the only difference, if I were to win the challenge, would be that we would switch chair spots, and that I would be in Jazz Band when it started up, but he would not be in it.  In terms of performance in the band, nothing would change.  Nonetheless, they picked scales that were hard for me, and I made the decision to play beautifully for a single octave, instead of iffily on the second octave… one I had been taught by the band director himself.

We had assigned ourselves the letters of A and B.  When the challenge finished, the directors came out from behind the wall, an area from which they had not been able to see us during the challenge.  They told us that player A had won, and who was that?  The guy wasn’t quite sure which letter he had been, and so looked to me questioningly for help.  I, processing much more than the result of the challenge, informed him kindly that he had been player A, and so nothing was changing with our chair rankings.

What was I processing?

Well, the way the band director had delivered the news… He had put on an air of unknowing, as though he hadn’t known who player A and player B had each been.  I had only been on the planet a teen number of years, and had minimal musical training,  – he had had probably more musical training than I had had in years of life itself – yet I could tell the difference in almost every player in our band, especially the trumpet players.  And he played trumpet, too, so I knew that he knew each of our individual sounds.  Especially between this guy and myself, the identification was easy… even for someone who had never heard us beforehand, one could accurately guess whose sound was which.

So, I knew the band director knew who had won… yet he pretended not to know, to be utterly unaware of who had been which player… It felt like he was proving a point to me, that I needed to practice more… no matter how good of a sound I had, if I didn’t improve further, I couldn’t even beat the nice guy with a weird sound.  I had taken lessons from the band director during my freshman year, but had been able to manage on my own eventually, and so we did not continue the lessons after a while.  For me, no matter what his intentions were, his pretended ignorance of who had one the challenge was like a slap in the face and a terrible scolding… I was embarrassed and somewhat heartbroken.

I had let someone else down, too…, not just myself.  I knew that he had wanted me to be in a higher chair placement, and that he had wanted me to be in Jazz Band.  But he was not going to let me do that without putting in a lot more effort.

Again, that is all my own interpretation at the time.

But it still holds about the same, looking back on it all today.

The irony of it all, however, is that, when Jazz Band started up that year, the band director casually upped the number of trumpets in Jazz Band… by one player.  So, I ended up in Jazz Band, anyway.

The following year (Or the year after that, depending on which year this had all been during), I ranked even lower in the chair placements at the end-of-summer chair test.  After several weeks of Jazz Band rehearsals, someone was sent one day to bring me into Jazz Band… so, I ended up in it then, too.  I was clearly good enough for Jazz Band – I even practiced that music, including when I didn’t really need to practice it, because that music came so naturally and easily for me – and the band director agreed with that sentiment enough that he kept letting me be part of it, even though I didn’t ever do well with the whole ‘practice on your own over the summer’ thing.  During the school year, I was always fine, and I always got A’s on my playing tests at grading periods.  It was when there wasn’t a concert or performance coming up, and I wasn’t surrounded daily by musicians and music that I struggled to practice and perform well.

I’m not entirely sure what brought all of this up today… I am reading a book about poetry that was recommended to me as a novelist/writer, because it is supposedly applicable to all forms of writing (which, the author even says this in the book, and it seems so far to be entirely true…, but it makes me want to write poetry now, too!).  Something in that got me thinking, and somehow sent me to that memory moment of embarrassment after the chair challenge with that guy.  I wonder if he even remembers it… if any of them do.  Clearly, it had some significance for me… whew…

Anyway… I’ll let that muse in the background, while I move on to other things in my day now. 😉

Post-a-day 2020

Football

I had never been to one of my school’s football games without being in the band.

Tonight, I simply attended a game as a guest/patron (for free, of course, since I work there).

I didn’t know where to sit (or do they all just stand?).

So, I went and sat with the band. 😂

Although, I technically sat next to it while it was there, because that was where the orchestra director, whom I knew, was hanging out, and he invited me to join, once I found him.

But, when the band went down for half-time, I sat in the band section with him to help keep other people out of it.

Nevertheless, I basically sat with the band.

It was a good enough evening, I suppose, though in large part due to the conversation I had with someone about modeling and high fashion and photography – we’re going to do some photos together, and we’re both excited about them. 🙂

I did somewhat miss being in the band, though.

However, I enjoyed it lots in high school, because I sat next to a bunch of older, handsome boys, so the dorky, skinny, boys, combined with the required dance movements of the band tonight really had me not want to be a part of it… it mostly just made me miss my old band days and people a little more than usual.

P.S. I have had a headache and a sense of nausea nearly the entire day today (and night thus far)…. ugh!!!

Post-a-day 2019

Officially Professional

It might not look like much, but it’s kind of a big deal… representatively, anyway.

This, my friends (and people I definitely do not know), is my first official photographer pass and credential as a professional photographer.

Sure, it was for a friend’s band’s performance…, and it isn’t exactly the kind of photography I am aiming to do most of the time…, but it was also for real – I, Hannah, was listed as “Photographer” on the special guest list.

I declared myself a photographer and that I am doing photography (not just ‘trying to get it going’ or ‘trying it out’) this past Wednesday night, and, here I am, Friday night, with an official photographer pass.(!)

How cool is that?(!!!)

Again, it isn’t the style of photography I’m aiming to do with most of my photoing, but it is still totally fun and totally cool!

Special bonus that they are totally okay if none of the photos turned out… I had never photographed a band in a club with uber-nuts lights flashing everywhere except on the band members’ fronts, so it was a good low-risk opportunity to practice and to learn.

(Aah!)

Yay!

Post-a-day 2019

But… those are mine – the things we do for love <3

Girls and bracelets.  Seems like a rather simple topic, right?  Just girls and bracelets.  Nothing special.  Today, however, they were both special.

It was my last day going by the school where I have been based this past year.  A student had been in touch to find out this information, and so knew that I was going to be there today in the morning.  When I arrived at my (well, it’s not my former desk, but I guess it must have still been mine, since the stuff all on it was for me) desk, I was surprised by a small and adorable (because Japan) pile of wrapped gifts.  Each one had a different note and was from someone different, both teachers and students.  They all surprised me, but the one that got me ready for tears was the one on a beautiful piece of Rapunzel Disney (C) paper, with “Love” tape to attach it to the pink bag.  It read:

Dear Hannah
Present for you.

From Nono, Yuna

These were the two main trumpet players in the band at school, the two with whom I had spent bits of time here and there, just listening to them play, chatting with them, having lunch with them, taking photos with and of them, letting them paint me (yes, they painted my arms one day), giving them fun jazz (which they had never heard!) music to play, and also playing trumpet with them.  Of course, I am going to miss these two dearly.

However, I never quite expected a present from them.  Let alone the nice little Japanese mirror, charm, and coin purse (or maybe it’s for makeup, even).  They’re designed to go with the whole yukata/kimono getup, and I had never found ones to go with mine.  So it was essentially a perfect going-away present for me!  And they had no idea.  They were just being sweet and giving me something Japanese.

So, a short time later, they show up to the teachers’ room and ask for me.  I rush over to them and shove them out of the teachers’ room in a hurry – no one else needs to be part of this little celebration-slash-goodbye ordeal that’s about to go down.

With the two are a handful of other girls from the band, too.  I thank them eagerly (Is that right?  Let me check… “eager, avid, keen, anxious, athirst mean moved by a strong and urgent desire or interest. eager implies ardor and enthusiasm and sometimes impatience at delay or restraint,” says merriam-webster.com, so I accept it as appropriate in this case.), and give hugs all around.  Some embrace the american social norm, and others delight in it hesitantly, but they all hug me with joy and enthusiasm.  I will miss these guys, runs through my head as we’re all chatting and being silly together, and I know my thought is right.  I will miss them desperately, and I know they will miss me, too.  The simple fact that my successor is not even musically inclined shows the unlikelihood of their finding a replacement-ish for me, and the fact that I am leaving Japan almost guarantees that I couldn’t even begin to find a sort of replacement for all of them.

As we are wrapping things up, so that they can go eat before they have to be back at band rehearsal (to which I had been listening earlier on in the morning, secretly), I notice yet again a comment directed at my shins-ankles-feet region.  i couldn’t hear what was said, as it wasn’t said to me.  Each time it happened, the comment was almost whispered to another girl, just quietly enough that I couldn’t quite hear.  But I could see.

I wondered if they were finally noticing how I don’t shave my legs – I kind of gave up shaving… not sure where I’m going with that in life, but it seems to be the current situation.  I am always happy to talk about almost anything with the girls, despite their often being incredibly shy about most things.  So, as I usually do, I encourage the comment to come to the open.

Finally, someone gets the nerve enough to say it aloud, and I am surprised.  It was not, as I thought, anything to do with my hairy legs (it is dirty blonde, after all, so it isn’t all too noticeable in the first place, but I imagine they’re all accustomed to mine already anyway, plus they seem to love the colors in all my various hairs (since they’re not just black, like Japanese people’s)).  What was the comment regarding?  My anklet.

“She… want… it,” was the oh-so-embarrasing phrase.  And oh, what self-searching consideration I had to make all of a sudden – I was amazed at myself at my success in the matter.

And so, as we all hug once more (or twice more) and say our goodbyes, I watch with a huge smile and a chuckle, as three of the girls bounce off wearing my anklet and two bracelets, all of which I had made for myself a couple or few years ago, and all of which I absolutely love wearing.  But, hey, as I told the girls, I made those myself, so I can get some more Mookaite and Jasper stones when I get back to Houston (I might even still have some, actually), and make myself some new versions of those same bracelets and the matching anklet.  Plus, as much as those meant to me, it pales in comparison to how much each now (and likely for the rest of their lives) means to those girls.  As they say in Japanese, one of them told me that it is her “precious treasure”.  I’m not sure they could have been more grateful, even if I had made the bracelets for them specifically.

I still kind of can’t believe those girls got my bracelets and anklet off of me.  But I also love how wonderful it felt to give away a part of myself to those who so greatly longed for a bit of it.  It was more than just giving away something I had with me, because it was 1)something I valued and 2)something I made myself, for myself.  It really was giving away a part of me.  It kind of feels like I’ll be able to take care of them forever, in some small way.  I like that.

Anyway, that was about ten minutes of today.  A really, really good ten minutes.  🙂


 

Post-a-day 2017

Music creates life

You know, music really can make life feel worth living.

These past few weeks have been really odd for me, and this week, especially, has been quite filled (to partial explosion) with stress, and an odd kind at that.  This afternoon, as I had still two hours to fill, after what had felt like a day’s worth of work and several hours of painful efforts to sleep, I put on my jacket and rushed out into the hallways to get myself moving around, and in hopes of finding something to help pass the time, preferably involving movement (thus my vague plan of aiming for the gymnasium).

The music students are currently preparing solos (with piano accompaniment), and so I came across one of my lovelies (the Bass player) rehearsing in the hallway/student entrance area (there’s a piano there) with her accompanist.  They welcomed me joyfully, and so I watched and hopped around (it was filthy cold) with semi-frozen delight for a bit.

They finished after not quite ten minutes, and so I wandered on my way toward the gym again.  As I was making the final turn, I was caught by a trumpet and a couple clarinets (which was fine by me).  One of them had told me that she wants to play with me, but our scheduled time for today had to be canceled, because she had to go home after rehearsal.  But she was here now, and practicing…, so she dragged me in and got me to play a bit (though not together, since we only had one trumpet).

Then, when I thought they were all leaving, they told me to come with them upstairs to what turned out to be a brief a capella singing rehearsal.  They were sopranos, so I got to stand with them and learn the soprano part to a very pretty Japanese song.  It was almost spooky how cool it sounded and felt to be in the group, making such beautiful music.

Afterward, we established that one girl is crazy, and I declared my similar mental state.  She and I, and others off and on, proceeded to dance around to the music of others rehearsing… we high fived as I was about to leave, as a sign of joint craziness and joy, and I said my goodbyes to the room, with lots of love in reply.  I truly felt myself at home with this goofy group of musicians.

As I rushed out the door, and put back on my shoes, a flautist was in the hallway, next to my shoes.  He excused himself, and I said, “Play!”  Instantly, and with a smile and an “Okay,” he played part of his solo piece for me.  It was beautiful.

And it was standing there in that freeing hallway, listening to this boy play flute, that the thought crossed my mind, unbitten, “Music really can make life worth living.”

As I have struggled with life lately, – and no, I don’t mean in the sense of giving up on life as a whole, but just on giving up on this part of life, living here and doing this job and all of that – what has gotten me through every time has been music.  Sometimes it has been live music from these kids at school, or from the guitar I got as an early Christmas present last week.  Sometimes it has been from Spotify or my music collection.  And sometimes even just a single song that a friend sent me from YouTube.

Whatever the case, the source of my survival, my strength, my belief that this life is worth continuing and working at, despite its near-overwhelming hardships, has been music.  I finally understand a bit what a friend of mine meant, when she said she felt like she had died, when she lost her hearing and, thereby, music.  When I don’t have the music, I just get used to the solemn melancholy, the deafening silence of a lifestyle I don’t love – I grow accustomed to not living, and I despise the existence (but that all just becomes the norm).  And when I do have the music, I am excited for today, for right now, and for what tomorrow might bring – I feel the life inside me and all around me, and I yearn to spread myself around and live to the fullest.

Music really does give life and make life worth living, even when it feels like you have nothing else for you.

I'm part of Post A Day 2016