Playing the saxophone and music have been some of the biggest joys of my life. I first started playing in fourth grade, which is the earliest the school would let you begin band. There were many instruments to choose from: trumpet, trombone, clarinet, and drums among others, but the saxophone was the instrument for me. I had listened to my Pop-pop play his saxophone for me when I visited, and I wanted to be able to play along with him. He was very good because he had been playing since he was my age. I hoped, and still hope, to some day be as talented as he was.
When I first got my saxophone from the school, I was eager to play, but I had no idea how to even put it together. My band instructor gave me and my fellow saxophonists our first lesson on how to assemble the saxophone, how to hold it, and how to blow into it. I went home and practiced with minimal success. I practiced everyday, and with the help of Pop-pop, I could play a few simple songs like “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and “Mary Had a Little Lamb”.
Over the months I became better and better. I breezed through the lesson books we had in school. I was really proud that I learned how to play so quickly. I was the best saxophone in the band. I could even play some easy jazz songs with Pop-pop. I continued my success over into the middle school, and then in seventh grade I had the chance to play in jazz band.
Jazz band was what I had been working hard for. Pop-pop, as most old people, was enthusiastic about jazz. I wanted to make him proud and be jazz band. I knew it would mean a lot to him if I made it in. There were auditions to get in, and I was fairly nervous beforehand. I had practiced the audition music for hours, so I really had no reason to worry, but I did nonetheless. The audition went really well and I made lead alto saxophone! I was very excited, I had not only made jazz band, but I was also lead saxophone. Pop-pop almost had a heart attack he was so happy. I did well in jazz band during seventh and eight grade; I even had a couple solos. I always got very nervous during solos, but I played through my anxiety. Our jazz was exceptional and we won awards from competitions we entered.
Also during middle school, I was asked to join a band with some kids I knew. I wasn’t the best friends with them at the time, but I thought it would be fun and that I’d eventually get to know them better. I wasn’t familiar with the type of music they wanted to play, but I soon learned. Ska is a type of music that is a mix of jazz, punk, reggae, and rock to put it best. It is very upbeat sounding. Most ska bands have vocals, electric guitar, bass, and a horn section comprising of a combination of trumpet, trombone, and saxophone. I loved the music when I first heard it, and I still do. I agreed to join the band, which was called “Six Foot Smurf”.
We covered a few songs to get started, and then we eventually made a few originals. We practiced fairly regularly, so within a year we were ready to play shows. Our first show was at the school dance, which I couldn’t attend because I had to go to a wedding. I was angry at my parents for making me go to the wedding and missing our first show. We played a few other small shows in garages and churches. We started to get better and finally played a real show in West Chester when we were freshmen. We had to open the show, but we were glad we had the chance to be a on a real stage.
Up to this point, I had become less and less interested in the band and the saxophone. Finally, one practice things were just not going well and I quit the band. I was fed up with the whole band experience. I thought I would eventually become good friends with the band members, but it just didn’t happen. I never did anything with them outside of the band. I was never told about practices or upcoming shows. So, abruptly I quit.
After that, I had no drive musically. I still participated in concert band and jazz band, but I wasn’t really into the music. I just played because my parents made me. I became totally separated from the music I had loved. I didn’t listen to music or really practice my saxophone for two years.
About a year ago my Pop-pop died. When he died, something kicked in and I realized that I had gone two years without music. Music was a monumental part of his life, and his death made me realize how music was once a huge part of my life. My friends had been going to concerts and finding new bands to listen to while I was in a daze. I couldn’t believe that I had missed out on so much. I frantically listened to all the new ska music my friends had found. I started to practice for jazz band again. I started to practice for fun.
That is where I am today. I am in the process of starting a new ska band with some friends. I am lead alto in jazz band again. I listen to music every chance I have. I am happy again. Hopefully I will never again stray from my love of music. I don’t know how I ever lived without it.