I learned to play when I was in middle school, and continued into high school and college. Once I got the hang of it, I was hooked. I loved the challenge of learning new music and loved hearing how my part contributed to the big picture in the ensemble I was part of. I loved the confidence I gained as I learned to play more and more difficult music. When I was a Junior in high school, a friend convinced me to audition for a community orchestra and I made the group.
I was ecstatic and learned to play as a group with people more experienced than I. That, in turn, gave me the confidence to audition for the Michigan Marching Band when I went to college. While in the Michigan Marching Band, I learned to play music I never thought I would be able to play. The expectation level was so high, and we had such a short time – usually 4 or 5 days – to learn new music. It was incredibly difficult, but I loved every minute of it. The experience of performing each Saturday before over 100,000 cheering people is something I will never forget! I loved feeling part of a group and the bond we had.
It was like a family. The experiences I had as part of the band could not have come from any other activity on campus. I was able to go to bowl games, including a Rose Bowl, which many people will never get to experience. Marching in the Rose Bowl parade cannot be described. I graduated about 20 years ago, and sadly did not play my clarinet during that time.
My husband however has inspired me. He learned to play the guitar this year using an online program that teaches how to play guitar for beginners.
Last year, however, I finally returned to Michigan for homecoming, where the marching band alumni gather for their annual Blast from the Past.
I don’t know why I had never returned to participate before. I picked up my clarinet the morning of the football game, and actually remembered how to play! All the old feelings rushed back, the joy of being part of the larger sound, the joy of being able to create music. Of course, it was a blast marching with my old friends and roommates in pregame and halftime once again in front of that huge crowd. But more importantly, the experience reminded me that now matter how long it has been, music will always be a part of me. Learning to play the clarinet will stay with me throughout my whole life, and it will always be something I can do for enjoyment.