Monday, December 21, 2009

Once a band nerd, always a band nerd

Throughout my academic life, I was a band nerd. I can’t remember not singing, and fell in love with the French horn in 5th grade. 

A few months ago, I went to my high school reunion. Beforehand, many classmates found me on Facebook, and knew my childhood horse-hobby was now my career.

But Amy Burean, now Laures, knew me as a music person. She asked if I still played. I had to answer “no, I haven’t played consistently in years.” She seemed surprised, considering throughout school I played with pretty much any group that would have me. My excuse? The intensity of my working student positions, then starting Straight Forward Dressage, had kept my schedule in a constant state of flux, and my horn in its case.

Recently, things have become a lot less hectic. Show season is still messy, but once the championships are over, things settle down. Thanks to SFD's amazing staff, I find myself running my business, instead of my business running me.

So I decided Amy was right, and picked up my horn again.

Before long, I was craving the camaraderie of other band nerds, so I found the Chester County Concert Band. Half way through the first rehearsal, I knew this was worth rearranging my schedule for. It felt like coming home.

Playing horn again is fun. I now fully understand the position of my returning-to-riding students. I find myself a little insecure about my abilities, but a whole lot less worried about it. I want to get my lip back, but I’m not going to make myself crazy to be the best horn player in the world. I’m going to enjoy this trip through the band room.

I see this in my returning-riders. For them, being in the barn is the point. They enjoy their time with the horses. When they show, they are delighted when they do well, and know that if they don’t, the sun will still shine. Even if the judging isn’t favorable, they still love sitting on their horse, because that is the point.

One big problem of working in a performance-based industry, like horse trainers, actors, musicians, professional athletes, and consultants, is you are only as good as your last show, last performance, last game, or last day’s work. The pressure to always do better, or at least not worse, is enormous. Your groceries depend on it. It’s easy to loose sight of the point.

But on Wednesday nights, that pressure is gone. I am just the new horn player. The smell of slide grease and the sounds of saxophones soothe me. I count my measures of rest, watch my accidentals, and do my best to hold an unwavering tone quality on long notes. My playing is free from the pressures of music scholarships and professional music that burned me out in college. I am free to just relax, have a good time, and to love to play.

By the end of rehearsal, I find myself a bit more mentally balanced, and ready to be a better trainer tomorrow. I guess I’m still a band nerd.

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