I’ve been playing musical instruments since 4th grade, starting when my mom brought me back a little silver fife from Williamsburg, Virginia. I played it for hours. My brother Sean, a first grader at the time, tried to play his but he couldn’t and said it was “stupid” and “girly” and then I had two fifes.

(He would later go on to be a fantastic trumpet player that could hit the highest of high F’s after not playing for a year, but gave that up for FOOTBALL…)

I played flute in 5th grade, then Mom then dusted off her clarinet and I started playing that in 7th. I couldn’t stop practicing, I loved it so much. I would tape myself on a cassette recorder (for the youngins, it was something we old-timers used to record music with) playing one part, then rewind and have a duet with myself.

Good times.

I played all through high school, then packed the clarinet away before leaving for my freshman year at Kent State where I was majoring in elementary education.

That year, I was MISERABLE without playing.  After 6 + years of playing my clarinet, I missed it, but what could I do? I was too shy and figured everyone at the music building were Juilliard caliber players.

Then it happened.

I heard the soundtrack to “The Little Mermaid” and decided right then and there to change my major to music. I went home, got the clarinet, and practiced in the dead of night at the music building so none of the music majors could hear me in case I sucked real bad.

I auditioned, made it into the school and got a scholarship to boot. I was so excited to change majors.

I met my best friend, Diane, the 2nd day of my sophomore year, the fall of 1991. I walked into the band room, and had NO clue where to sit. You have no idea how terrifying that is…everyone knew everyone, and I was freaking out that I would accidentally sit in the flute section, the HORROR.

Thankfully, Diane recognized me from our clarinet class the day before, and yelled: “Hey, come sit by me!” I loved her that moment, and 24 years later we are still best friends.

In college, I played clarinet, then became the Eb clarinet player (it’s like a piccolo clarinet) for the school. At least I played it for most of the pieces, unless a greedy clarinet grad student took my part because there was a great solo in it. BUT I’M NOT BITTER.

I’m still bitter. 

With all the opportunities,  I wasn’t satisfied with just playing clarinet, I needed to play everything I could get my hands on. Luckily I was indulged greatly by the music faculty, and during my years as a music major I played: piccolo, flute, alto flute, bass flute, oboe, Eb clarinet, Bb clarinet, Bass clarinet, contra-bass clarinet, alto, tenor, and baritone saxes, and accompanied soloists on the piano.  I was the person that played what no one else wanted to.

One thing I really wanted to do, though, was direct sing. I thought I had a decent voice, but was so unsure of it that I botched all of my singing auditions in high school. One time, I pretended to have a cold when auditioning for “My Fair Lady” and ended up getting the role of a MAN with 3 lines.  My singing was then limited to a few karaoke sessions at dive bars but only after a few wine coolers.

Hardcore.

I eventually sang in church for a few years, but was always uncomfortable. I decided that one day, I would find the opportunity to sing with a band and belt out something before I die.

Then the community band director mentioned needing a vocalist for “Blue Moon.” In a rare moment of “OMG I WANT IT, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE LEMME HAVE IT!” I asked if I could audition right there. He looked startled and had an “oh-crap-what-if-she-sucks-then-I’ll-have-to-figure-out-how-to-say-no” face, but he let me, and next thing I know, I’m in.

I made it!

So the concert was June 20th, and I got up on stage in a middle school auditorium and sang my heart out. I was not even a little bit nervous, and I’m not sure why. Before a clarinet recital in college I would be ready to hurl 3 seconds before going on stage then break into uncontrollable yawning.

Not this time. I had a lot of friends and family come to see me. The best parts were my husband waving to me like a goober from the very back of the room, my twins yelling: “That’s my mommy!”, and my own mommy beaming at me from a few rows from the front. (She told everyone afterwards: “This is my BABY!”)

Scratch that off the bucket list.

I need to get started on my other items, such as finishing my novel and making millions of dollars, meeting Jon Stewart, and getting my 5 year olds to wipe their butts consistently.

That last one is going to be a doozy!