I’d like to welcome back Mr. Obvious, who is making yet another guest appearance on the GMC. Regular readers might remember that Mr. O sometimes shows up here just for the purpose of helping me make a point, or in some cases beat it to death.
Anyhow, this time around I was going through some old family pictures — something I’ve been doing a lot of lately — and once again noticed one that seemed to have a musical connection. It’s from the early 1950s and it shows me in the front row of my grade school orchestra, clarinet in hand, wearing gaudy socks and ugly shoes.
As I looked at the picture, I realized that even though I remember playing the clarinet as a kid, I’d forgotten a lot of the details about how and when it all started. And it was exactly at that point that Mr. Obvious made his appearance, offering up the opinion, ‘the older you get, the fuzzier the memories.’
I’ve written before about my clarinet career — once comparing myself to Benny Goodman and another time talking about my Dad’s affinity for Pete Fountain — but a lot of the details of my early playing days are sort of grayed out. I must have had private lessons because I don’t think I just strolled in one day, picked up a clarinet, and began to play like Benny. OK, I never played like Benny but you get my drift.
It’s not really that important, but I’m kind of curious about it because of something that happened years later. I mentioned it in one of those earlier articles, but here it is again in case you didn’t follow those links. (And why didn’t you? Do you think I put those in there for fun?)
It happened many years later, two or three decades after I’d played clarinet as a child. One day I had an opportunity to again pick up a licorice stick — and this is where that memory things hits again, because I don’t remember the circumstances — and I tried playing. I was able to make sounds that resembled the real thing, but I couldn’t read the sheet music!
So that’s why I’d like to remember more about how I learned to play as a kid. I mean, shouldn’t reading music be sort of like riding a bike? Once you learn, it should it stick with you forever. I’m sure Mr. Obvious would agree.
Benny Goodman Sextet – “
Lullaby Of The Leaves”