Follow the Bouncing Knitting Needle

I got to play my trombone on Thursday. That’s something I do every few months. There was a time (back in the late-80s/early 90s) when I would practice hours a day, so I’m finding my current once-a-quarter practice regimen a little lacking. However, I wouldn’t be playing even once a year if it weren’t for the Saline New Horizons Band.

When my mother, Mary Labuta (formerly Mary Orwig formerly Mary Shepard) and her husband Grandpa Joe (formerly Dr. Joseph Labuta formerly Joe Labuta) came to Saline a few years ago, they started the Saline New Horizons Band. It’s a part of the national New Horizons Music Association, which was started by Roy Ernst, a professor of music from Eastman, former professor at Wayne State, and still a friend of Grandpa Joe and Mom. Grandpa Joe directs the Saline New Horizons Band while Mom plays various woodwind instruments (usually bass clarinet) and serves in a number of indispensable positions in the group. Since the Saline NHB was so small during its formative year they asked me to play for some of the concerts. It was fun to take out the horn again, and although the band has seen amazing growth over just a few years and they don’t really need me anymore, I do still play when other obligations occupy their regular players. Thursday’s Saline Evangelical Home concert was such an occasion. Since the Evangelical Home is also the current home of Great Grandma Wealthie Shepard (formerly Grandma Wealthie Shepard formerly Wealthie Meyers) there was more than one reason to do the gig.

Unfortunately when I agreed to the gig I didn’t realize that Harrison only had a half day of school. That meant that by the time he got off the bus, I had less than an hour before the concert started, during which time I had to feed two kids, load them into the car, get to the Evangelical Home, park (no small feat), get into the building, FIND the concert, and get read to play. I JUST made it.

I was greatly impressed and encouraged by the way Harrison helped with the whole thing. He held Grace’s hand as we walked through the parking lot and my hands were full with my trombone and music stand. He helped keep Grace from going into tantrum mode a couple of times during the concert. And at the end, when my hands and Grandma’s hands were full of instruments, he pushed Great Grandma back to her room in her wheelchair. With his help, for the first time I could see how it might be posssible to leave the house with four kids (not that I have any plans to do that when not absolutely necessary).

Marjorie Shelton has played flute in the band since the beginning, and her husband The Honorable Donald serves as regular photographer and webmaster. Unfortunately The Honorable Donald also has some kind of day gig, so he wasn’t available for this daytime concert. So I handed our little HP camera to HJ and told him to take as many pictures as he liked. You can see that he did.

Dr. Grandpa Joe has written a series of textbooks about conducting and taught generations of Detroit-area music teachers to conduct. So you’d think when he goes to a concert he might remember to, you know, BRING HIS BATON. I mean, that must be lesson one of any conducting book, right? Well he missed that little detail for this concert. So a hunt went out for baton substitutes, and a knitting needle actually turned out to be a pretty good analogue. Something for the next edition of his book, I guess.

I think the concert itself went fine. I say “I think” because I was sight reading most of the music and had a three year-old hanging on to me, my trombone, and sometime even my slide as I played. I didn’t have much attention left over to devote to critiquing how everyone else was doing. I just know that I stayed with the knitting needle, never noticed that I strayed too far from the rest of the group, and didn’t make any embarrassing mistakes.

As usual, you can see more pictures of this event at the Flickr site.

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