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Sixteen months ago, the now-retired band director handed me a black case and said: “It’s an alto saxophone. You’ll play in the marching band in September.” It was June!
In the three months before band camp, I had to learn everything: key fingerings, scales, quarter notes, eighth notes and dozens upon dozens of sixteenth notes. I was overwhelmed, but I had never given up on anything and wasn’t about to start. That whole summer,
Photo credit: Kelsey B., Cohasset, MA
I locked myself in my room and practiced until my lips bled. Eventually, instead of loud, blaring noises that sounded like stampeding elephants, I started connecting phrases and making music. I had taught myself to play the saxophone!
By the last week of July, I was feeling pretty confident, but as soon as I walked into the band room, my mind went blank. In addition to being wracked with nerves, I felt left out of the “band bond” that everyone else seemed to share. I became determined to prove that I could perform as well as everyone else.
During camp I worked harder than ever, this time on the drill. I analyzed each step and highlighted the drill sheets. Every measure of my music was marked with the steps. For four weeks I pushed harder than I ever thought possible.
My biggest problem proved to be marching and playing at the same time, which, unfortunately, is unavoidable in marching band! While part of me was sure I would never master this, the stubborn part of me was too determined to call it...