Stepping into Bravery

Courage is being afraid but going on anyhow.  ~Dan Rather, American journalist and TV news anchor

My flute teacher has been trying for weeks to tell me I’m ready to play in a group.

That a real band setting will teach me things I can’t learn by doing only private lessons.

Logic tells me she’s right, but oh my. I’ve been playing less than two years. Who’d want me in their band?

Well, it turns out my teacher has just the right group in mind.

It’s a symphonic band at a nearby college, one that meets weekly and is comprised of a variety of student music majors on secondary instruments, students of other majors who miss playing in a band, and community members who might not have touched their instruments for decades.

In short, a little better than beginners, but in no way professionals.

You’ll be fine, she said.

And my blogging friend Dawn echoed those sentiments. We’re all scared the first time, she said, but it gets easier.

Okay, I thought, I’ll give it a try. I’ve never known musicians to be cruel, critical, or belittling.

Still, just thinking about this gave me the shakes.

That jittery feeling in your stomach that questions whether you’ve lost your mind.

I mean, it’s one thing to play for myself — and by myself — in a lesson.

It’s another entirely to play in public with others.

Fortunately, age has taught me that if you want to do something but are afraid, do it anyway. One gets courage from taking baby steps and succeeding.

This week was our group’s first rehearsal.

We sightread the four pieces our director has chosen, introduced ourselves, did some warmups and tuning. Just like I remember band practices.

Nobody made fun of anybody else. Nobody complained about the pieces … or the two concerts we’d be giving this semester. Nobody fussed about having to sit next to somebody who might not play as well as they.

Time flew, and just like that, rehearsal was over.

I walked to my car humming Tricycle, one of the songs we’d been playing (particularly hard to count as it’s in 5/4 time).

And I couldn’t stop grinning from ear to ear.

Band is so much FUN!

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19 thoughts on “Stepping into Bravery

  1. I always loved playing in our community band, which gave weekly concerts in the park, and the Dixieland band that mostly did private gigs at places like the Elks Club. Just as you say, both groups were warm and accepting, and filled with people whose abilities differed a good bit. It was fun — and I’m glad your rehearsal was fun for you!

    How many members are there? Will your concerts be recorded and put onto YouTube so we can see them? There are plenty of groups that do that – – you might inquire, and suggest it if no one has thought of it.

    • Linda, I didn’t count, but I’d imagine there must have been 40 to 60 of us, with who knows how many not appearing for the first rehearsal. All woodwinds, brass, and percussion; no strings. And there were enough “good” players that rehearsal went pretty smoothly!

      I’m not sure about any recording. I didn’t ask, but it wouldn’t surprise me, even if somebody’s girlfriend could capture it all on a smartphone. But I’ll have to find out. Sitting as flutes do in the very front row, I need to know if these performances will be available for all time, ha!

  2. *cheers*

    Brava, Debbie! I so admire your courage to walk through your fear and do it anyway :)

    “That jittery feeling in your stomach that questions whether you’ve lost your mind.

    OMG…I so know what you mean because although I was a professional actor for many years of my life, it scared the hell out me every single time I had to step out onstage. And to be honest, I never got over the jitters. Ever. However, I was not going to allow my fears to stop me from doing what I loved. Fear has been my greatest teacher.

    I am soooooo happy for you, my friend, and celebrate your determination of not allowing your fear to stop you. My thoughts have always been that as long as we try something, there is no such thing as failure. Only success!

    X to you!

    • What lovely thoughts, Ron — thank you! I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one with butterflies in the stomach over performing in public. I imagine all community theater folks get a case of the nerves, though you’d never know it from outward appearances (and I’ll bet you never showed it, either!!)

      I think we can learn a LOT by embracing fear and working our way through it. Now, I’m not talking about skydiving or some such (unless, of course, a person is so inclined), but sometimes we need to coax ourselves into doing something we really want to despite our fears. It helps me to focus on the enjoyment others will receive from our performance!

      Happy end of January to you! xx

  3. Poking your nose out! So impressive. It’s nice that you are with such a nice group of people. Dog people are not very nice—we universally trash everyone which can be fun in its own right if done over a good dinner after a long unsuccessful day at the dog show. But welcoming…not..unless you have an ugly dog and can help make a major then we are VERY NICE. Play the flute :-D And I would bet dollars to donuts that you play it exceptionally well!

    • An ugly dog? Is there such a thing, or are you referring to those sad specimens who fail to meet AKC standards?? Darling Dallas says he’s NOT ugly — maybe a tad on the big end of the spectrum, but definitely within guidelines. And he says if his mama hadn’t given him the newters, he’d have made an excellent show dog (though we’d have had to work on the down and back). He’d have liked all those special treats!!

  4. Debbie, your courageous venture reminded me of when I transferred in 9th grade from a small private school (class size 50) to the largest public Jr. High in Va. Beach (class size 900) where I didn’t know a soul. Having previously played the flute in a small symphonic band (of 30), signed up for band class to find myself committed to a marching band of 250+ members. Kinda crazy at 1st (memorizing music, marching whilst playing) but turned out to be loads of fun & a great way to make new friends. Plus, my flute playing improved tremendously! 🎼😎🎼

    • Oh, Virginia, what a fabulous story! Thank you so much for sharing it. You were brave even back then! I’m glad your band experience turned out so good and memorable — there are only 40 to 60 of us in this band (way smaller than my high school and college bands, so it’s up to everyone to perfect their parts!!)

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