Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Music Teachers ~ Part 1 ~

My very first music teacher was Bill Douglas. He was from Scotland. He would wear his shirt sleeves rolled up and had gold wire framed glasses. He was slightly balding and had grey tufts of hair. Mr. Douglas was my band instructor and later my Grade 6 teacher. I idolised Mr. Douglas.

In Grade 4, musicality exams were given. Those who scored high were chosen to participate in the band. I don't remember being on that list, however, there was room for 2 more students to begin. Derek Brunning and myself. I liked Derek Brunning...ssshhh don't tell anybody. We chose the clarinet. We would stay at lunch time to learn how to read music and catch up to the others. Eventually, we were admitted into the band.

The first concert I remember playing in was one where we performed Moon River. Honestly, I don't remember that much about the experience. We were a small group, standing in a row on the stage at my elementary school belting out Moon River.

We progressed to the main band. We became the Arthur Pechey Elementary School Band. We were good. No. We were awesome. I remember playing the theme song from 'Dallas'. I remember my heart pounding in my chest with excitement at the final crescendo.

We travelled to a few different music festivals and always received good marks. A's and B's, but mostly A's. One lunch hour, Mr. Douglas wanted to record us. The cassette recorder was a high tech instrument back then so he used a spool recorder. I recall it looking somewhat like a movie projector with big spools of tape and knobs to turn on and off. He readied us, inspired us, "play for the Gipper". And we did. 

"That was the best I've ever heard you play," Mr. Douglas said. That really meant a lot coming from him. Then he walked over to the recorder. DOH!

It wasn't on. 

Whenever we gave performances, we had to wear a uniform of black pants, white long sleeve top, and the most glorious [hideous] Red Smock. The Red Smock, was made of stiff candy apple red polyester trimmed with black ticking. On the left breast was our school badge in colours of black, white and yellow. What a vision [nightmare] we were in our costumes.
I also had to wear my Lucky Socks. They were white knee high socks with a navy stripe and a yellow stripe at the top. My performance would suffer without those Lucky Socks. 

I loved those band days. At the end of Grade 7 I would change schools and band instructors. If I couldn't have Mr. Douglas for a band teacher, I didn't want to be in a band at all. I decided that was the end of my clarinet career. Besides, I had to retire my Lucky Socks....they had holes in them.

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