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October 06, 2008

Second Chance at Making Music

Today was a really good day. Not only did I not have to kill a single spider (although the day isn't over yet) but I got to play a marimba and a flute in the same day!

This morning I went and interviewed a woman, Luanne Katz, who is a professional percussionist. She lives with her husband in this house that is high on a hill overlooking Fulford Harbour and the surrounding islands and I can only imagine how spectacular that place must be on a sunny summer day.

They bought the house during a 3 day visit to the island when they had no intention of buying anything. And, it took them about four years to move their life from Oakland, California to the island. She still has to leave for work which mostly takes place with the Oregon Symphony based in Portland because let's face it, there's not exactly a huge demand for professional percussionists on Saltspring.

She's set to give a concert here, her first, with 3 buddies, also percussionists and marimba players who she's known for more than 10 years. They've never played together as a group - only as various pairings.

Her biggest worry is the stamina required because they are giving a concert in Washington State two days before the one here and they have to rent a truck and load four full sized marimbas into the truck, unload the truck, reload the truck and do it all again to get back to Saltspring to then get them into Artspring. I never thought about how much work setting up and taking down drums and marimbas must be. It's a workout! Marimbas aren't exactly small. It's like moving the very large desk of a president of a company or something.

I have to say, there's something you notice after you've interviewed a lot of people and that is that the ones who are incredibly articulate make so much difference when it comes to the experience of the interview. They seem able to describe their experience with depth, in ways that require you, the interviewer, to do very little work so instead of focusing on the questions, you can focus on other things about them,about the environment, about better questions to ask, etc. She was like that. It was a real pleasure.

Then, much to my delight I saw an ad in the paper this weekend for a beginner concert band starting up and so I managed to get in under the wire. I decided I'd like to learn the flute because that's what I always wanted to play in high school but for some reason I ended up playing the clarinet.

Picture this. The practices take place in a mexican restaurant called Cafe El Zocalo. The restaurant was closed and all these little chairs were set up at the back. The walls, vibrant yellow, had photos of mexican characters interspersed with Saltspring Island characters. People came streaming in, mostly women and two or three men. A lot of them seemed to be like me. They'd played an instrument or two in high school or when they were younger and hadn't touched one since and now, as adults, instead of playing what they'd chosen in high school, they were choosing something different.

We all managed to get sound out of our instruments - flutes, clarinets, trombones, french horn, saxophones, trumpets. It was just like being back on the stage of Lord Kelvin Elementary school in Grade 7 where I can still picture myself, picking up a clarinet for the first time and I can even picture the band instructor at the front of the stage. Obviously a momentous day for me to remember it THAT well.

The woman who teaches the class is a music teacher and she just happens to own, along with her husband, the mexican restaurant. He was a professional musician, then a vet, and now he runs a mexican restaurant. Go figure?

Afterwards, they put out nacho chips and salsa while people waited to sort out the details of their instrument rentals.

I was in heaven. I have wanted to get back to music in some way for a very long time. Definitely an enjoyable day, in spite of the gray and the rain.


Annie said...

I am enjoying your blog immensely. Lisa (who misses you VERY much) gave me the address for it.
Its great to read about someone following their dream, and doing what they REALLY want to do.
Saltspring sounds like a wonderful place, a totally different lifestyle for you, and now, music too!! How great is that. Hope its going well with the flute.

I don't think I ever saw you again after Lisa and Dave's wedding, I always hoped she would bring you up to Harrison. I know she's hoping to visit you soon.
Thanks for your writings!

Gayle Mavor said...

Wow. I appreciate your comments. It's good here. It would be even better if all my friends from Vancouver lived here too!!