Sorry that I’m a bit late on this one–it’s technically 11/17 (at 4:03AM) and I woke up from an unknown sleep–meaning, I hadn’t planned on falling asleep while working on computational problems…but it is what it is.
Today’s prompt is to write about a holiday gift that shaped your life (or at least a few years) and the one that popped into my head was my clarinet. I started playing clarinet when I was in sixth grade and my mom got me a clarinet that Christmas. It meant a lot because, to me, it meant she believed in me. I mean, I sang before that, but after my mom passed away at the end of the following school year, and the best way I can describe it is that I lost my voice.
I held on to music, or at least playing my clarinet, because it was one of the few things I had left of her, and I felt it brought out the best in me. When I was in eighth grade, I saw Mr. Holland’s Opus where he says “Playing music is about heart, about feeling, about something beautiful. It’s not just about notes on a page. I can teach you about notes on a page. I cannot teach you about that other stuff.” From there, I felt called to be a music teacher.
There would be times in high school when music, particularly being in band, would save my life. In high school, I played clarinet, bass clarinet, baritone saxophone, and when I was in college, I added contrabass clarinet, some piano, bassoon lessons, and even a small stunt in percussion. (I’m sure Mom got a kick out of that–when I chose an instrument, I was allowed to play anything except for the drums.) I even started singing again.
I ended up changing my major from music education to English education, with a music minor. That too, is another long story. It seems I have lots of them. I still play clarinet and bass clarinet from time to time, and for reasons I don’t care to explore here, I no longer own the clarinet that I had back then, but I know that I would not be the person I am today without that clarinet.