I started trombone lessons in primary school.
I was so proud to play such a shiny, golden instrument that nearly measured the same height as me and played a loud, fat noise. I’d carry the big, black case onto my school bus and my classmates would eye it up, full of intrigue and admiration. Well, they actually didn’t even bat an eyelid, but I felt super important anyway, like a child protégé.
Then, high school happened.
Now, I know that the trombone isn’t exactly the sexiest instrument out there, but it’s a ruddy important one in any jazz band or orchestra. That didn’t stop older kids from shouting out ‘Are you carrying a coffin?’ in the corridor, and it didn’t make swapping lunchtime gossiping for music lessons any easier.
I soon gave in to the jibes and my weakness for playground fun, and packed it in – leaving my forgotten trombone to collect dust in our attic. Well over a decade later, I often look back and think about what a cotton-headed ninny-muggins I was for not realising what a wonderful opportunity I had with those music lessons.
Playing an instrument is the surest way of being cool. Think about it. Would Ed Sheeran have reached PHWOAR status without the aid of his guitar? Would Taylor Swift have world domination if she never picked up her first guitar? Would HAIM bass-face be a thing without the bass? Of course not. They’d probably be doing cold-calling insurance sales.
And it’s not just the famous rock and pop folks either.
Imagine playing in an orchestra while precious ballerinas perform Swan Lake, prancing along the stage that’s just above your little star-filled head. Oh jeez, imagine being the harp player. I ALWAYS fixate on the harp player and think ‘that has to be the coolest job in the world, even cooler than being an Ice Cream Taster’.
If classical music isn’t your thing, picture yourself getting jazzy in a brass band at a cool club in London, like something out of a Fitzgerald novel. I recently had a fantastically fun Saturday at a Brixton dancing spot where a brass band played their own interpretations of modern hits from the likes of Kanye West to Daft Punk. It was hard to tell who was having more of a blast – the crowd or the band.
And you could even be in the band that plays on Strictly Come Dancing, or is that just a dream that belongs to me and a few dozen other elderly Charleston fanatics with a bad taste in TV?
Sure, it can be tough to practice an instrument while you’re still at school, for a variety of reasons. It can be nerve-wracking playing in front of other pupils, frustrating using your spare time to perfect the latest piece and hard to accept that some people who don’t share your musical flair (and who are most probably jealous of your talent) can be a bit mean.
But if you do enjoy it, try to forget everything else and just do it.
You won’t ever regret spending ‘too much time’ at band practice when you end up rocking Wembley stage! It’s no secret that Taylor faced the haters while growing up, but instead of giving in, she took the ultimate revenge by turning it all into pure pop magic material in hits like Mean.
Last Christmas, my lovely mum gave me a guitar. I was over the moon and vowed to practice as often as I could. Within months I could play David Bowie’s Heroes, Taylor Swift’s All Too Well and Elvis Presley’s Can’t Help Falling in Love. It’s hard to describe how wonderful it is to be able to play some of my favourite songs, regardless of how completely out of time and tune I perform them. But I imagine it’s similar to how Billy Elliot feels when he’s dancing, like electricity.
And that’s why learning to play an instrument is absolutely rocks.
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