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Music and Big Fish


tenorSaxThough I look innocent, I do have a mischievous streak.   I’ve managed to capitalize on that even some as an adult.

I’m 16.  I go to a tiny high school, made up of students from two townships.  My class is one of the biggest classes ever to come through: 35 students.  Musically, I am a very big fish in a very small pond: band, chorus, guitar, ukulele, bassoon, baritone saxophone, tenor saxophone, sing, and write music.  But here’s the thing, I only sing, write music, and play guitar well.  The others I do really, really badly, I mean just awful.

Mrs Springstead is our music teacher.  She used to be really good.  Now I’m not even sure she can hear.  David Webster, Richard Hudson, and I are the saxophone section.  They play altos.  I play tenor.  We are the best section in the band even though I am really bad.  We consider ourselves untouchable, music jocks.

David and I decide to taunt Mrs Springstead.  On every held note let’s put this huge vibrato into it, wide and slow.  Richard won’t do it, goody two shoes!  WaWaWaaaaWa….. not a word.  She doesn’t say a word!  Did she even notice?  Well she didn’t, but Richard did.  After a few weeks, Richard quit band.  I think we inadvertently forced him out.  I still regret that all these years later.  But still, those WaWaWaWaaaas were lots of fun.

Okay, so that didn’t work.  What else could we try?  We switch music.  I am playing music written for the alto on my tenor and David is playing my tenor music on his alto.  For those of you that have never been in band, all these instruments play in different keys.  The music is written in special keys to make it sound pleasing to the audience, actually be in one key.  With this switch, most of the band is playing in C, but I’m playing in G; not too bad.  David is playing in B; argggg God awful!  You are listening.  You hear three jarring keys being played at the same time.  They don’t belong together. Its as if we have three basketball games being played on the same court at the same time.  It is so jarring I can hardly stand it. Mrs. Springstead doesn’t say a word. Not even a glance? Impossible!  Where are her ears!?

We think about trying to play the music upside down.  We aren’t good enough for that.  We are just big fish in a small pond.

I’m 17.  David comes up to spend the night at my house in the country.  We can’t sleep.  We head out to his folks VW camper that he came up in.  We play various songs in the camper with the doors closed.  We hear some vague shouting and roll down the windows.  Ted and Cozette Allen are yelling at us from the bedroom window in their house about a hundred yards away.  “Will you two cut that out!  Have some respect!  We’re trying to sleep over here!”

Sometimes, we were noticed.

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