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

Hipster Imposter

We went to a donation-based fundraiser yoga class the other day, which was focused on raising funds for a certain local pet shelter, while giving practice to some newer yoga teachers.

The class took place in a brewery.

I did not always understand what the teacher wanted me to do, and the people around me weren’t always too helpful with what they were doing, so I was behind at times, and I did some guesswork at times.

I generally feel that yoga teachers keep students in downward dog for far too long – like, I’m about to pass out by the time they start to mention maybe moving out of the position… and this is just about every time.

This brewery yoga class was no different, and even a bit worse at times on the downward dog front, so I regularly switched into child’s pose or baby pose, and then returned to downward dog whenever the teacher began whatever was next.

I also breathe so much more slowly than teachers seem to believe long, deep breathing takes… approximately three to five times slower.

I did a decent job of everything, especially considering how I didn’t know what was going on throughout half the explanation time, because I didn’t know the names of postures, and the teachers kind of took a while to clarify what I was supposed to be doing.

The class was enjoyable, nonetheless.

There were discounted draft beers afterward.

I, of course, drank my water, but we hung out for a bit so my friend could mingle with her friends, and I could be distantly social,… kind of like being social by association.

At one point, a yoga teacher came up and talked with us.

“I really like your practice,” she said directly to me.

…..

I graciously accepted the comment and, I imagine, compliment, and aimed not to laugh or be ungracious or ungrateful.

Since then, I haven’t really stopped wondering what on Earth she could have meant – I mean, did she like how I basically did my own thing every time we went into downward dog?

Because that’s kind of the only thing I did differently that could potentially be a positive….???

Haha

I have no idea, but the comment was positively hipster, and it alone made me want to burst out laughing.

Yes, I know that I am all sorts of hipster with all sorts of things in my life… I’m just not that level of hipster, you know?

But, who knows?

I did just complete my yoga certification exam today, so, I’m well on my way to achieving yet another level of hipster in the very new future… oh, and didn’t I buy a bright red scooter just the other day?

So, I guess I’m not exactly an imposter…

Like I said, I’m hipster, but I’m not beyond finding the hilarity of hipsterhood, and laughing heartily at it all. 😛

Post-a-day 2019

What(-anabe)?!

And, yet again, 渡辺 謙 Ken Watanabe has shown up in my life.

I was visiting a friend in her classroom today at lunchtime, and some kids needed instruction and practice on how to do quick-changes for a theatre contest this weekend.  (We won’t discuss how they’re only just learning this skill, despite their not being new to theatre and despite their being enrolled in that particular contest [of many contests] over the weekend.)  I happen to have a rather strong background in the workings of theatre, and so I took over helping them, while my friend worked with other kids on tying knots (No idea, but maybe it connects with lighting in theatre?)

Anyway, as we were about to do a practice run-through of the quick-change I’d set up, using clothing items I’d found around the classroom, one of the kids with me asked, – and somewhat snarkily (though not rudely) I might add – ‘Are there even any shows that actually need this?’ I responded with an immediate affirmative, to which he queried, ‘Like what??’
Again, immediately, and out of seemingly nowhere in my brain stores, I said, “‘The King and I’… Yes.., Yes! ‘The King and I’!”
Somewhat chastened, though still quite happy, he said an, ‘O-kay…’
I had surprised even myself with my immediate response, and wasn’t entirely sure of how I’d found the video of that memory so quickly.  “There’s actually this really great video,” I said, “of a somewhat famous quick-change from it.  I’ll pull it up in just a minute, so you can watch it.  It’s actually really cool.”

And so, I pulled up the video and played it, admiring the quick-change and the whole concept of Broadway and fabulous singing voices and all that jazz, and explaining to the students what was happening and why.  Then, we resumed our practicing.  The video, however, continued on to another video, as YouTube’s auto-play feature does.  It was the same quick-change again, causing us to look briefly at it once more, but with the scenes before and after it included.  I happened to glance up after the quick change finished, and what did I see?

You guessed it: The leading lady dancing in the arms of 渡辺 謙 Ken Watanabe.

And I was blown away doubly.  Because, despite the fact that I was remembering this quick-change video from “The King and I” at (I think) the Tony Awards, I had not made the connection from having read 渡辺 謙 Ken Watanabe’s Internet info pages the other night that his being the lead in “The King and I” several years ago was the same production.  I’d even told my mom just this weekend about his having been in it, and we talked about it briefly.

But the two pieces of information were stored in such separate cabinets and files that they hadn’t linked up yet in my head.  Until, of course, I saw the video with him in it, and it all clicked.  And then I was actually jumping up and down, declaring that it was ‘渡辺 謙 Ken Watanabe, it’s 渡辺 謙 Ken Watanabe!’

Boy, I’d really like to interview him.

I wonder how he’ll pop up next into my life.  I can hardly wait to find out. 😀

Post-a-day 2018

Trumpet and Sex(?!)

This conversation happened between students and me this afternoon.  

Student: “We have to go to practice.”

Hannah: “Oh, really? What practice?”

Student: “We must practice trumpet and sex!”

After a stutter in the conversation, the second student, who wasn’t speaking, noticed the blunder, and she aimed to correct it.  As we all laughed almost hysterically, they did their best to practice the difference in pronunciation between the two words.  

Sex…sax…sex…sax…sax…sax…Sax… Back and forth we went, my pronouncing it, and their aiming to copy the sounds correctly and then reproduce it over and over again.  It was adorable and wonderful.  I love those two girls, and I will miss them loads after I leave here.
Post-a-day 2017

Perfection in the Unexpected

Tonight I went to a bar.  (For me, that’s actually a somewhat surprising event, for those who don’t already know this.)  A recent friend just started working there, and invited me to come by on her first(?) night, tonight.  I figured it would be nice to see the friend, as well as get to know a little place in my town (and, by going early, I could potentially avoid smokers filling the place).

In preparing to go to the bar, I figured I would bring along this speech I just wrote (like yesterday), so that I could spend my time practicing the speech, whenever the friend was busy working.  Plus, I knew there’d be a slight chance of getting a local to help me with the speech (because it’s in Japanese, so I can use the help!).

What I was not prepared to have happen, was pretty much everything that happened.

The bar was quaint and cool, and had an art gallery as half of its space, along with fabulous music playing quietly in the background, such that it was never a bother.  The people were not only friendly, but American-like in their open conversations and friendliness with one another – it was as though they were all already friends, although they definitely were not.  Following that style of friendliness, they all rather quickly learned of this speech I was reading over, as well as the details of the competition, and when I have to do what, and the fact that I decided to participate only last night.

As I was preparing to leave, and the people nearest me were wishing me luck on my practice, someone suggested I come back and read the finished product.  We all agreed that it was a good idea.  Then someone else suggested reading the speech now for practice. Seeing as how I had hardly practiced reading it, I knew it would take forever, and said so.

Thirty seconds later, silence was attained throughout the bar, and I read the first section of my speech to my avid audience of these Japanese bar-dwellers.  I messed up.  Of course, I did.  And it was fabulous.

It was totally terrifying, and I did it anyway, and I even did a decent job.  Some of it was perfect, and some of it was not even close to perfect.  But the experience, in and of itself, was absolutely perfect.  (Even though there was a guy smoking off and on…, but he, being the wonderful smoker he is, always held his cigarette high, and blew his smoke up as high as possible, to keep it out of our faces.)  And that’s the point of it all, anyway.  Once I arrived home, I even got to chat with a friend I’ve been missing lately, and that was a blast…  Perfection has been attained tonight, so now I shall sleep.  Goodnight!  😀

 

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