Thursday, April 5, 2012

Play That Funky Music

I've always had strong roots in music.  Those roots stem from my mother's side of the family.  My maternal grandmother got a masters degree in music back in the early part of the 20th century when the idea of women pursuing higher education wasn't such a common thing.  My grandmother, mother and mother's sister were/are all accomplished vocalists and my grandfather and uncle on that side of the family were/are also singers.

I sang in church youth choirs as a child, and I remember when I was in third grade one day the music teacher came in with a violin.  She was talking about how in the fourth grade students could start taking violin lessons in school.  I knew I wanted to play an instruments in addition to singing and since this was my first opportunity to do so, I rushed home to talk to my parents about getting in the violin program.

My mother had enough musical background to know that it was important to have a solid foundation before moving on to advanced levels and so her requirement before I could take up any other instrument was that I do two years of piano lessons.  I did, but rather than really diving into the piano I treated it more as a box to get checked off so that I could get on to the fun stuff.

By the time I finished my two years of piano lessons I was now old enough that in addition to taking up the violin, I could choose to learn how to play wind instruments.  So many opportunities!  I basically narrowed things down to clarinet and trumpet.  I remember deciding on the clarinet because I thought I would have too difficult a time playing different notes on the trumpet because there were only three buttons to push.  On the clarinet, there would be a certain fingering that would produce a certain note - easy right?  Yeah, that's what I thought, but I was like 10.

I played all throughout middle school and high school.  I really enjoyed my time as a "band geek" and it led to some wonderful opportunities.  I've played halftime shows at NFL games, played before Major League Baseball games, marched in the Rose Parade and spent a summer touring the US and Canada performing in a competitive drum and bugle corps.  

Fairly early on in my musical experience I found myself attracted to the low end instruments.  I moved from clarinet to playing bassoon and baritone sax and learned how to play a baritone bugle for the drum corps experience (those groups have brass only).  Something about those bass notes really drew me in.

As I got older, I got away from music.  Other things just kind of took over.  I missed having music in my life though.  Of course, I would share that fact with Mrs. Flops and about 10 years ago, she brought me an electric bass starter kit.  A good friend of mine who has since moved away was taking guitar lessons with a great teacher who also taught bass.  I started taking lessons.

I treated my playing as just sort of a getaway.  Frankly, I didn't put a ton of effort into it.  It was a good way to unwind though.  My teacher is a very wise soul who understood what I was there for and allowed me to have that experience be what I need.  So, it was basically good (and cheap!) therapy, but it wasn't anything that was driving me to share my music with anyone else.

So I just basically farted around with going to my lessons for about ten years.  I'd have fun with my teacher but really, I was spinning my wheels.  It was OK though, because spinning my wheels was what I needed in my life at that point.

All that changed a few weeks ago.  I don't know how to describe it any other way than saying that I found something that was always missing from my musical experience, passion.  Before I had always discounted the idea of finding people to play with.  I wasn't good enough and wasn't prepared to invest the time needed to get there.  One day we went to some friends' house, one of whom is a legitimate professional musician (albeit with a day job).  He urged me to bring my bass to the house so we could play and we did.  I kept it pretty simple, but I was playing with someone else.

It was awesome!  I needed more of this.  The point of music isn't to sit in a lesson studio working on things, the point of music is to express yourself and maybe I finally realized that I had things worth expressing - or maybe it was just that it was fun.

I've also started to see how a deeper understanding of what is involved in making music can carry over into other areas of your life.  In fact, I've got a post brewing around that I'm working on that will even tie music into poker.

So in addition to poker discussion in here, you can expect to see more talk about my musical journey.  I can't wait to tell my first story about some woman throwing her underwear on stage!


  1. Just pray that it's a thong and not granny panties.