Something personally momentous happened last night. I went to my first practice of my suburb's community band!
I've played the flute off and on for most of my life. Since leaving my old church (which had a wonderfully inclusive music ministry) over three years ago, I haven't been involved with a band or orchestra, so many people who've met me since then don't even know about my flute side. I'm not a professional or even a very talented amateur - especially after a LONG hiatus. But I do love to play, and have hoped for a low-pressure opportunity to play with a group again.
The community band put on an impressive show at our fireworks on July 3rd. Listening to them, I remembered that I had intended to look into that when I moved to the neighborhood... almost seven years ago. (Hey, my life was a lot crazier back then.) I made a mental note to do some research. A little while later I ran into my yoga teacher, who knows I used to play. We started talking about the band, and it turned out that one of her companions was in it! She introduced us, and he encouraged me to come to one of their weekly practices. He assured me that it's very low-key, there's no audition process, and you can come and go as needed. The whole encounter felt like a neon sign from God. So I decided to check it out.
No matter how long I'm "away," the band room atmosphere always feels like coming home to me - rustling music, clicking buckles on instrument cases, conversations half-shouted over scales and that timpani that just won't be quiet. It's a unifying experience even if you're in a room with total strangers. My playing was rough (seriously, I have a LOT of work to do - my intonation is long gone), and the music was tougher than I expected, but I really enjoyed it. Not for the first time, I felt thankful to my mom for insisting I take up an instrument when I was a kid. When music is drilled into you in your formative years, it's like riding a bike when you're an adult. You can always come back to it.
Everyone was really welcoming (including the director), but I could see that, as is usually the case, they already have a lot of flutes. In my church band I was needed to fill out the sound, but clearly this community band doesn't need another mediocre flutist. (We're a dime a dozen, which is partly why, if I had it to do over, I think I would have chosen the oboe.) Still, they're willing to let me play! So I plan to keep going and see what develops. I really don't need another weekly commitment, but I think getting back in touch with my musical side (even temporarily) will be great for my overall health and maybe even my writing. I'm thankful for the opportunity.