I believe that practice doesn’t make perfect, but it sure helps
The summer after my ninth grade year, a few friends of mine talked me into being in the high school band. Though at first I was a bit skeptical of the idea, I gave into the persuasion and decided to go talk to the band director about what it would take to play bass guitar for his band. His simple response to this seemingly awkward situation was, “Well Mr. Cooper, can you read music?” How had I not foreseen this predicament? Of course I couldn’t read music. In the sixth grade my dad had been persistent on getting me to join band, and even with the great musical background of the Cooper family, I decided band was for losers and decided to play football during my middle school years instead. Mr. Mattarazzo and I then came to an agreement, I would learn to read bass clef by starting out playing the tuba and then maybe later I could transfer to the bass guitar. It wasn’t the original plan I had. I wasn’t even sure what a tuba was, but I was eager to experience this whole band thing, so it was off to band camp for me.
That whole first band camp I was focused only on learning the tuba. For not knowing anything about the instrument I quickly became familiar with the nature of a sousaphone (tuba). The massive mouth piece made my mouth go numb, and the sheer weight of the thing made my left shoulder ache for days. I learned my first notes by watching the others push down their buttons and listening very intently as my lips curled and buzzed trying to match their pitches. Mr. Mattarazzo then took the band outdoors for marching practice. I soon realized how difficult this was actually going to be. I not only had to learn a brand new instrument, but I also had to learn to play it as I marched around a football field. As I practiced my fingers, mouth, and feet became mechanical in an effort to memorize my first show tune.
In all my practice I learned to play the tuba very well. By my senior year I was section leader over five other tubas and I even took the select opportunity to go to the four states bandmasters’ convention. The bandmasters’ convention had players from Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. Even though I made second band second chair I take pride knowing that I had only been playing for two and a half years, and had held my own against some of the best players in four states.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.