Friday, March 7, 2008

My heart beats like a drum

I've been singing all my life. When I was nine years old, my mom started teaching me how to play the piano. When I was 12, and in seventh grade, I started taking private harp lessons that were being offered through my school's music department. My eighth grade year started and the band teacher came to find me in between classes one day. I was in a wheelchair, recovering from foot surgery, waiting outside my English class. (I would change classes before everyone else, because of the wheelchair.) She had a proposition.

All the other harpists were in ninth grade now or already in the symphonic band. Ms. Dalton wanted a harpist for festival season, in the spring. It was then football season, and harps don't exactly fit into pep band music. So, in the meantime, knowing I had a piano background, it was suggested I play percussion. I accepted.

I mainly played the mallet instruments, but occasionally played on the drumline. Come Christmas, I was playing mallets, keyboard, and harp, sometimes in the same song. I was able to walk within a month of school starting, but I couldn't stand for long periods of time. So, we would arrange instruments around chairs and stools. I obviously couldn't move my own instruments around, but I was lucky enough to have some very nice friends in the band. I'd hold a clarinet or two, and off they'd scoot. At our first festival in the spring, I'd recently had another surgery and was back in a wheelchair. Wheelchairs, non-handicapped buses, and band equipment. It was a very interesting day. Our second festival took us to Splashtown, the area waterpark. Sadly, I was still in a cast and had to spend all our non-playing time reading poolside, without even the option of jumping in.

It was a really fun year. I learned a lot musically and played many different instruments. I was planning on being in the marching band at the high school and had even been measured for my uniform. Ms. Dalton was even encouraging me to go for drum major.

The following summer, my family moved to Utah. I was back in junior high, but I wanted to continue in band. Unfortunately, the band teacher there had this rule that you couldn't play percussion without playing another instrument first. Despite my background, and the fact I was in 9th and this would be my last year in junior high, she still wanted me to start in the 7th grade clarinet class. I said no, and that was the end of my formal percussion career.

Where am I going with all this?

Sometimes, on audition forms, I still put that I'm a percussionist. I've never had to do anything terribly hard and it's never really come up. So, it was a complete surprise when I got this email a few days ago, from the assistant director of Mormon Choir.


I've been told you're a percussionist. . .

What!? Who told you that? Wait. It was me. Dang it! It went on, asking about my background and if I'd be willing to play percussion instead of sing in our upcoming concert. I responded with, basically, "It's been a few years, but sure." and was then asked to attend a percussion rehearsal tonight.

I didn't completely suck. I need to get my counting skills back up to snuff, but it was making sense. We had another person who couldn't come tonight that I was technically substituting for, but since he's even less of a real percussionist than I am, I volunteered to be the permanent fourth person on percussion.

I'm confident and freaked out at the same time. It's literally been ten years since I formally played percussion in a performance.

Did I mention the concert is in two weeks?


Nancy Heiss said...

What a fun thing! :) You'll do great!

Fran said...

hahahahaha! That's awesome! I'm just waiting for the day when a director says "Heidi, I hear you're good at cat wrangling. Well, for this number, we're bringing in 20 cats and you're in charge." Because you know it'll happen someday...

You'll be just fine! It will come back to you and you'll do well. :)

DeShawn Smith said...

Drumming... I just have to post something about one of my favorite "Muppet Show" moments. I think John Denver was the musical guest.

John Denver: No, Animal, BEAT drum!
Animal: Oh, Sorry.

chosha said...

That sounds awesome and the Utah junior high music teacher you mentioned was a nitwit. Can't wait to hear how it goes.