Sunday, November 6, 2011

In honor of the Clarinet

Today, the woodwind quintet I play with performed at one of the local UU congregations. It has been a long while since we have performed in front of an audience and I had forgotten how fun it is. I have been fighting an allergy cough and was just hoping not to break into a coughing fit right in the middle of the piece. I am so happy that it went well! My usual performance anxiety issues stayed mostly away and I just let myself get into the music and enjoy it. I had also forgotten how many little solo bits I had. So glad that I did not embarrass myself! I have been playing the clarinet for twenty-five years. That is a crazy long time. I have been with this current group on and off for about ten years. We are very casual, just a group of non-professional musicians who like to play together. We mostly perform at UU churches (thus a friendly audience ;-) and are open to most styles of music. We lean towards classical (today was Hayden), but have been known to play the themes to Monty Python and the Pink Panther. I am so grateful for this group. We have seen each other through babies, job changes, cancer, moves and every other sort of life milestone. I am most grateful, though, that we can share the music.

I am not an amazing clarinet player, but I love it. When I tell people I play in a quintet*, they immediately ask what instrument. I say the clarinet and the conversation kind of ends. The clarinet is often seen as the vanilla of musical instruments. It has value by itself, but is made a lot more interesting with others mixed in. It is not exotic, lots of people play it, and doesn't have a big cool factor. It is true that in the quintet, my part bounces around. One minute I am with the melody (flute and oboe) and the next with the bass (french horn and bassoon). My role is usually the filler. I am ok with that. To me, it means that I get to play a bigger variety of music. The clarinet is awesome that it can play high and low. My range is huge. I love its mellow sound. It isn't squeaky like the oboe, piercing like the flute, or nasally like the saxophone. It is a warm sound that fills me with joy. I can't imagine not playing it.

*a woodwind quintet is comprised of: flute, oboe, clarinet, french horn, bassoon


Bridgett said...

See, I played the flute. I think the flute is what happens when you let a 9 year old girl pick her instrument. I took clarinet for one summer during high school (it was recommended that we branch out and know more than one, back in band). It was a mysterious lovely instrument. I loved how low it could play, I loved the wood sound to it. But the spit. I couldn't get past the spit and I had to go back to the flute...

plaidshoes said...

Too funny Bridgett! Mostly, because I am completely grossed out by the spit from the French Horn player - I guess it is all relative! ;-)