it’s official. I am out of my mind.
have taken up the saxophone.
now-famous doctor of naturopathic medicine thought I should take up swimming to
strengthen my lungs. “Frank Sinatra was a swimmer,” she said.
swam underwater to develop his lung capacity — which enabled him to continue a
musical phrase through a stanza without pausing for breath.
always been more of an artist than an athlete,” I argued. “Couldn’t I try
something else, like, oh, I don’t know, saxophone?”
Dr. Lisa saw no reason I couldn’t do both. That girl thinks I have 26 hours in
procrastinated for weeks. For one thing, saxophones don’t come cheap. For
another, I’d be lying if I said I’ve always wanted to play one.
I put out a tentative query on Facebook: “Anybody know where I can find a bargain
on a used saxophone? Quality not important. It will be played by a 53-year old
beginner with weak lungs.”
odds were pretty slim, right? I felt safe.
answer came shortly from the most unbelievable source. My own son-in-law had an
alto sax collecting dust in his storage space. Who knew Kevin played in his
school band for a year in Grade 5? His wife would be happy to let me use it.
had I gotten myself into? What if I hated it? What if I couldn’t even get a
squeak out of the silly thing? Did I really need one more thing to do?
for me, it was several weeks before we collected the instrument from their home
in Calgary. Kevin gave me a quick lesson while my daughter chuckled and
chortled. The next day we travelled home with the shiny Yamaha in its
velvety-lined case. All I needed was a pair of shades and a hat and I was set.
put out a new query on Facebook: “Anybody know a local, affordable saxophone
instructor willing to take on a 53-year old beginner with weak lungs and a low
frustration threshold?” I figured my odds were pretty much one in a million.
within half an hour, my first lesson was booked with a guy who is proving
himself the best music teacher ever. I’m not making this up. Ritchard Wiebe is
a wonderful saxophone player, a patient teacher, and a generous encourager.
importantly, he and his lovely bride Liz both laugh at my jokes.
a side note, at the risk of sounding politically incorrect, every person I know
born with the name “Wiebe” arrived on the planet with music seeping out of
their pores. Have you noticed?)
I’ve been blowing my horn half an hour a day for six weeks now, convinced God
will eventually reward my longsuffering husband. As for the neighbours? It’s a
good thing I’m starting in winter when all the windows stay closed.
taken piano lessons as a kid, I can tell you a saxophone is completely
illogical. On a piano, the notes appear in nice, neat order. When you hit a key,
it will always play the same note no matter what you do with your lips, your
cheeks, your tongue, or your eyebrows.
so with a sax. The notes don’t follow any predictable pattern. Alternative,
convoluted methods to play many of them must be learned. And just because
you’ve placed your fingers on the correct buttons doesn’t mean the note will
come out right.
maybe I won’t be the next Lisa Simpson. But guess what? I’m having fun! I can
play Jingle Bells, Jolly Old St. Nicholas, and Good King Wenceslas, all at the same
volume: LOUD. Why no one has booked me for their Christmas party is mystifying.
whole scenario of finding both a sax and a great teacher is something we in
Christian circles like to call “a God thing.”
can call it what you want. Just don’t accuse me of tooting my own horn. Technically,
it still belongs to Kevin.