Saved by the Band

This post is by Jennifer - the flutist of CPSTL. Recently at Washington University, a much beloved dean passed away.  Dean McLeod was a leader and visionary, but he genuinely was interested in people.  He would ask people upon meeting them, "tell me your story."  I share his love of listening to people's stories.  So here is a little part of my story  - the real story - of how the flute brought me back to a place of happiness.

I grew up in Maine through the 6th grade. My family was awesome, idyllic if not a little quirky.  My dad was a war hero and my mom was a Southern lady transplanted to the great white North.  We spent summers between Northern Maine and the Isle of Palms, SC and there was never a shortage of laughter.

Life was good.  My mom decided from around 1984-1987 that she would dress all of us alike... all the time.  This may be considered a slight form of child abuse, and you can tell from our faces that we were thrilled about Mom's fashion demands....but honestly, that was the largest problem we had to deal with.

I started playing the flute in the fifth grade.  It was my second choice because I was dying to play the French horn.  My mom was convinced it would leave a ring around my lips and my dad was much more interested in the $18 a month price tag of the flute vs the $52 price tag of the French horn.  So since I had already failed at piano, I decided that I would play the flute.  I never practiced. Ever.

Sixth grade rolled around, and my world fell apart.  A couple things happened - I decided my eyes were too small for my face and my parents got divorced. I learned words like "mediation," and "custody," and "guardian ad litum."

Everything I knew was changing, and we were moving to South Carolina.  Three little girls and one baby boy were leaving everything they knew to start again.  And Dad was staying behind in Maine.  Some kids bounce back quickly from divorce, but in our case, it was catastrophic.

Seventh grade rolled around and I learned words like, "y'all" and "sir" and "maam."  Things were not good, I was so angry about everything and I had no friends.  Then, I had my first day of band in my new school, and surprise surprise - I was REALLY good at the flute in South Carolina (I was not great in Maine).  We were playing things like the theme from Robin Hood (the Kevin Costner version) and I remember spending hours mastering the complicated rhythms from the theme music from Beverly Hills Cop starring Eddie Murphy.  It may not have been Beethoven or Mozart, but for the first time in a long time, I was happy and excited about doing something.  I may not have loved music at that time, but I LOVED band.  I just loved it and the friends I made in middle school and high school band are friends I have carried with me for life.

Things eventually got better and better, but playing the flute was my always my constant.  Through music, I was able to become a normal kid again... with great friends and a real zealous love for band - total nerd alert.  As I grew up and started playing really great music, I came to realize that not only did I love band, I loved music.  I think even to this day, I treasure the friendships and the music making in my life, because I know where it started and what it has blossomed into.  My family is still awesome and amazing - just a little different, but I cannot imagine where I would be without band class....