Tuesday, June 7, 2016

My mother gave me music

And she may not even realize it.

I have vivid memories from my childhood of my mother playing Scheherazade Op. 35.

She, my little brother and I would dance like fiends—she’d told us the story behind the music, so we knew the movements were stories. I especially loved the first movement (The Sea and Sinbad’s Ship) but would dance to all of it.

Being so little, I didn’t know the names of any of the instruments; I remember asking my mother what made that smooth sound, the one that went like so (and I moved my hands back and forth horizontally). I’d never seen a violin, so I didn’t know about bows or strings or anything else. I just knew the sound was smooth.

I didn’t care for the clarinet, but loved, loved, loved the flute—so much so that when I was a little older and could join band, I chose the flute. I didn’t yet know about the oboe and wouldn’t for a few years yet, but I never regretted playing the flute.

Later on, the fact that I knew how to play the flute saved me from having to march with cymbals when my Army band marched in parades—that’s the normal fate of double reed players and I’m here to tell you that cymbals are heavy, boring and hard on the hands. I played piccolo instead, and that was an absolute blast.

Anyway—I don’t know that I would have been so insistent on playing flute without that early exposure to music. Years later, I did much the same thing for my kids and I’ve always wondered if they remember hearing Scheherazade and if it’s as good a memory for them as it is for me.

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