Chapter 9: Playing the Hand I’m Dealt
Let’s talk about sax again.
After I retired, I did play oboe and English horn in a community orchestra (and played the Dvorak New World Symphony again) and had a very few dance band jobs. The generations that used that sort of music was thinning out, and jobs were few and far between, even for the real pros among us. And eventually the instruments I had acquired and loved over the years wound up being donated, or sold, or if I couldn’t stand to say goodbye, rested in the closet. And that was where my saxes lived for about fifteen years.
I still listened to music on the radio and the recordings I have and would buy from time to time. But I’d been feeling gradually a need to be more in touch with the music, to literally touch music physically. I guess it was about two years ago that it became an urge to get out my baritone sax and see if it could still play, and if I could still play. I opened the case, and could tell it showed its time of neglect. But when I had it assembled, and put the reed to my lips and blew, I was astonished at how good it sounded. To me, at least.
A scene that you might have come across recently in a theater or movieplex nearby came to my mind as I was playing my first few notes, and I sang gently, quietly, sincerely: These are my friends, see how they glisten. And I could not resist, At last, my arm is complete again!
I’ve not yet heard of any blood being shed when my less than sharpened playing has reached the ears of passersby, but I try to play quietly. But I play. Now I want to play more. I want to hold on to music as closely and as long as is possible, and although some who’ve heard me play might doubt that was music they heard. I’ll go on as long as I can.
This is a good time to be alive when you’re falling a bit more in love with music. There are still CDs, there is the radio, there is the Internet (and isn’t the NPR music site a treasure!) And there is HD Radio™, which I’ve used for the jazz when WGUC-HD started, and now that WGUC is using it to carry the classical side I listen there a bit more these days. But I still feel the need to touch music myself, by blowing through a reed and plastic and metal and to be a part of music, bad technique and all.
I soon enough found the losses in my technique, and if I really wanted to play the saxes, I had to have some work done on them. It took a while to find who was best to work on these vintage horns, but now I have them, and I play them, and it is good. Probably the neighbors and the passersby on my busy street don’t think it is good - my technique still needs work, but I’m getting there.
But I want to do more with music, and I find myself thinking of how to combine music and my condition. There are quite a few groups for Parkinson’s people, such as the monthly general meeting, some exercise groups, some game groups. At the time I’m writing this I’m trying to find a way to realize an idea I had recently come up with, to find a time and place for some of us Parkinsonians to gather and just listen to music together.
If something works out, maybe WGUC will let me put a bit about that on their site.