We have another free week, and as I said last month I’d like to feature some of the groups of people in my life. This time I’d like to introduce you to some of the musical groups in which I have the privilege of performing.
I’ve mentioned that my area of study is music. Most people assume that means I perform, but my focus was on music education, and I spent twenty-eight years teaching elementary students how to read and perform music, and the last nine years have been spent teaching future teachers how to incorporate music into their academic curriculums. While I did a fair share of performing in high school and college, that took a back seat to raising kids, especially since I continued to work full time while my daughters were young.
Once my children were on their own and I retired from full-time teaching, I had more time for doing things I enjoy. I realized I missed making music. I hadn’t given it up entirely, but it took up far too little of my time. I played in the church orchestra once or twice a year, and since I kept up my musicians’ union dues I would get a call once or twice a year to fill in somewhere. But each time that happened I would have to spend a week or more “getting into shape” so that I wouldn’t sound terrible.
A few years ago I decided to join a local community band. They needed an oboe player and they didn’t require an audition to get in, so I showed up. And then I returned again the next week, and the next week. This is my third year playing in that group.
Once I started getting more confident, a strange thing happened. I got an email asking me to play on a regular basis in one of the two community orchestras. Of course I agreed, and now I’m playing all the wonderful pieces of orchestral literature I love to listen to. And then a few months ago I was asked to fill in for another community orchestra for their concert last Saturday. I was thrilled to do this, even though it meant being on the road three evenings a week – I was back doing something I love. Besides, this second orchestra gave me the opportunity to play under the direction of a conductor I’ve known and respected for years.
So in the space of three years I’ve gone from playing two to three times a year to playing three times a week. On Monday evenings I drive about twenty miles southwest to play in the Zeeland Community Band. We play all year long and in lots of different venues – church picnics, senior care facilities, outdoors in the park, and last week we performed a Veterans Day Concert in a senior center. This is a picture of us at the Pumpkinfest in October. What a great experience.
On Tuesday evenings for the last few weeks I drove fifteen miles east to play in the Calvin College Community Symphony. We had a concert this past Saturday and I had so much fun! I asked my daughter to take some pictures of us in their beautiful Fine Arts Center. I sincerely hope they call me to fill in again!
On Wednesday evenings I drive about twelve miles to downtown Grand Rapids and play in the Kent Philharmonic Orchestra. We had a Halloween concert for which we had to dress up – I made myself a grim reaper costume, using my oboe as the handle for my scythe. Next month we’ll have another concert in which two high school musicians will be featured. Again, I really enjoy this group and the challenges the music gives me.
So that’s my musical life right now. How does it relate to my writing? I think it helps me in several ways. Being among several different groups of people gives me more material – the more people I see and observe, the more ideas I get for things that could happen! And reading and performing music helps to keep my mind active, not to mention my body – sometimes I have to park a good distance away from the rehearsal area, so I get my exercise walking there. I’m so glad I don’t play a large instrument!
Have you ever given up a favorite hobby and then tried to pick it up again?
A shared love of music is what brings together the two main characters of my regency novella, Love’s Refrain:
Lady Laura Montgomery would much rather spend her summer at the family estate, but instead she must act as her stepsister’s chaperone for the London season. She takes solace in her poetry books and in her love of music. They’re all she has to comfort her as she once again faces the one man who stole her heart ten years ago.
Andrew Bradford, Earl of Covington, needs an heir, but he’s not looking for love. His mother has made her selection, but he can’t help being drawn to the girl’s chaperone. Can he hope to make a match based on more than beauty and suitability?
Love’s Refrain is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other ebook outlets.
Patty, it all sounds so wonderful..and I’ll bet it all SOUNDS SO WONDERFUL! (lol!) I would love to be talented and involved like that.
As for picking up a favorite hobby I had picked up again I’d have to jump right on writing! I had not written or published anything in years in between stints.I’d find myself doing local work and or for businesses and organizations and think.”I need to be doing this” and then let the rest of life get in the way…I still let it undermine me.
A lucrative hobby I want to get to is sewing, although I don’t want to do it for anything or anyone but me and family.Mostly,I would like to get back to blanket-making and quilting.
I know that you share that hobby, too.Where do you get the time???
Hope the writing continues to grow for you! As for finding the time, I’ve always been one to get by on very little sleep. And I tend to not worry about things that others spend a lot of time on – namely, cleaning the house, taking time with hair/makeup/dressing up. Plus, with hubby taking care of the cooking and laundry, and his odd schedule of going to bed at 6 pm, that gives me a lot of free time.
Hair an d what little make-up I may ever use takes just a few minutes for me.It’s mostly housework and grandkids…who generate housework!
I think it’s fantastic that you’ve returned to that part of music which you love — performing.
I have no measurable musical talent, but I have a wide range of musical tastes. I was raised listening to classical music (my mom a music major in college), along with Hollywood movie musical soundtracks. And, of course, the “rock-n-roll” radio station WTIX, from New Orleans.
I still love music and still love some of my favorites from all three of those “types” of music.
I have a local friend, Dan Harris, who — like you — plays in various orchestras. Some are church and some community. He frequently travels to Lexington and beyond to perform.
Music is certainly an aspect of our lives which we can stick with for a LONG time.
I agree, Jeff. Unlike certain sports and other endeavors that require a younger person’s health and temperament, music can be enjoyed at all ages. My fingers don’t move as fast as they used to, and my eyes sometimes have trouble focusing on the black dots on the page, but so far nobody’s complained.
My mom played in the LSU alumni marching band for sev. yrs. And was a member of a community orchestra (in Shreveport) until she was past 80 yrs old.
Presently, her significant hearing loss prevents her… or I’d bet she’d still be playing her clarinet at age 92.
I should tell Jess to talk to you. She just decided that she wants to major in music education and have a secondary major in music therapy.
I enjoyed reading about your music and how it never left you, now seems to be an even bigger part of your life than it was before.
I’d be happy to talk to Jess if she has any questions, Angela. Music therapy is a growing field, but it’s tough – it’s like having a degree in psychology as well as music. And yes, I’m so happy that performing is a growing part of my life! Thanks for commenting.
A lovely, thoughtful post, Patricia – I’m so glad you got back to doing something you love.
Like Tonette, my ‘return’ was to writing, after a decade or so being too tired looking after kids etc. to bother. I hadn’t realised how much I need it until I was back doing it again.
Having said that, I still like to do something ‘visual’ from time to time, like card-making, scrapbooking, a bit of sewing … but of course now I’m writing again, I don’t have time for those! It’s a vicious circle!
Thank you so much for your kind thoughts, Helen. Like you, I’d cut way back on performing because once the children arrived it was too difficult to keep up, since I continued to teach full-time. And like you, I didn’t realize how much I needed it. Life is truly a cycle, isn’t it?
Pingback: A Backward Glance | fourfoxesonehound