Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Just Played in my First Band Rehearsal in at Least 10 Years

with 4 comments

As the heading says . . . I went out tonight and played my saxophone during a rehearsal of the local community band.  This is the first rehearsal in over ten years of any group whatsoever I’ve attended, mostly because my hands were not strong enough to sustain the strain of holding the instrument, much less fingering it, in all that time.

The main reason I decided to start playing in a band again after all this time is that I now can practice, on average, three times weekly for at least forty-five minutes (the high, so far, being about an hour and a half) without hurting my hands or wrists in any way.  (They ache, but I can use them, and I can live with that.)   The secondary reason is that in the last year, I’ve gone through two rounds of occupational therapy for my hands and wrists, which helped immensely.  So now, I can play again.

I am aware that in many senses, I’m very fortunate; I have carpal tunnel syndrome, but I have never lost the ability to type.  Most people with this condition do, whereas instead I merely lost some speed.  The OT helped me regain some of my overall typing speed, too, so it was extremely beneficial overall.

Now, as to how I played?  As you might expect, I certainly was nowhere near top form; I kept getting thrown off by other people’s sense of time and meter, and my own hands kept betraying me now and again (they wanted to slide off the keys, a big no-no that I knew was likely to happen due to the stress of doing something for the first time — even though it’s not, exactly).  But I followed the music, and knew what it was supposed to do; next time, I hope to play a solo part or two (within the context of the band pieces, not in front of the band), and I will practice the toughest parts (and of course the solo parts, too) so when I go back to rehearsal in two weeks (the next rehearsal, for a concert in December), I will be prepared and ready to lead the saxophone section.

Tonight, everything that I’d hoped for didn’t happen — my hands ached and weren’t doing what I wanted and needed them to do all the time (though they worked at least 85% of the time, and I’d actually expected worse — sight-reading music always means you’re going to make mistakes, and because my hands aren’t totally right (and will never be right again, I’m sorry to say), that just adds to any sight-reading mistakes I’d be likely to have anyway.

But my rhythmic sense was good; my sound was good; my intonation, mostly, was good.  (That last is an upper-level skill.  Mine is where it should be right now, and I can match pitches with other people, but I’m not where I would be in top form, no.  Will it affect me playing in a band, though?  Nope.)  And I had enough energy to get through an hour and fifteen minutes of rehearsal (it was a “short” rehearsal this week, mostly to see the new music and get copies of it to practice and be prepared to play in two weeks), so that, too, was a good thing.

I kept myself from playing for quite some time because I feared my health would not be good enough, and I knew my hands definitely weren’t good enough.  Now, though, I’m able to play . . . and even though I’m not where I want to be, I’m at least able to do something.

And something always beats nothing any day of the week.

—————-

Note:  I’ve been leery of discussing any of my physical challenges on this blog, because for the most part, I feel they’re irrelevant to the discussion.  However, in this case, they are quite relevant, even though I wish devoutly that they weren’t.

Now, are my physical limitations about to stop me?  Absolutely not.  They haven’t for anything else — merely slowed me down a little — and they won’t here, either.  I just have to learn to work around them, that’s all.  And I will do so.

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Written by Barb Caffrey

October 20, 2011 at 10:15 pm

4 Responses

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  1. well done

  2. Good to hear that you’re playing again. I sure miss it, and I’m afraid that I’m limited to my clarinet. As you may or may not know, I don’t have the one I used to play regularly, it’s a new one… I haven’t tried this one out yet.

    My tenor sax, I had to sell a few years back. I’m hoping to buy another one again in the next couple of years.

    Is Mark Eichner still directing the band? Does Esther still play? Who all is still there and active? If Eichner is still there, please tell him hello for me. I really do wish I could make time to play, but, I’ll have to play around my schedule some more to be able to clear that time to go in to play…

    Glad you’re jamming again. 🙂

    likamarie

    October 20, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    • Yes, Professor Eichner still leads the band. And his wife still plays the French horn, though I haven’t talked with her yet. (Not sure if she recognized me.) Did speak with Diane Kosmala — was glad to speak with her — and there were a number of people you’d know, too, from the Municipal Band (when we both played in that), mostly in the flute section.

      I’m sorry to hear that you don’t have your original clarinet _or_ your tenor. I do hope you’ll be able to buy a tenor sax again. (There were four altos, one tenor and one bari sax last night, including me. I recognized only one, and she didn’t talk with me because I think she found me annoying.)

      Barb Caffrey

      October 21, 2011 at 10:36 pm


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