Boogie Woogie Baritone

Posted on September 21, 2009


When I was in high school I played the flute in the concert band and the marching band.  I am the very slender, very short marcher over there on the left of the picture. 

BCC Marching Band

I never excelled at playing, but I was competent, and I learned a lot about music and teamwork and perspective.  I developed a lifelong appreciation for the importance of the arts in public school education.  I also fell in love with jazz and longed to play the alto sax, but that’s another story.

Along the way I learned to identify a whole lot of instruments and their various shiny parts.  That explains a little interchange at the market last week.  I looked at the fat silver object young Brett pulled out of his pocket along with his change and said, “Whoa!  That’s no trumpet mouthpiece.  What do you play, a baritone?” 

Big grin.  He’s working on the baritone to begin with, he told me.  He hopes to master the trombone so that he can be in the Jazz Band.  He has a loaner that he can use at school, but he has no instrument to practice on at home.  His mother was there, too, and she said they had been looking at rentals, but Holy Wah large brass instruments are pricey, and the passions of middle school students are notoriously fickle.  Well, I had a little idea. 

I decided to ask if you have an instrument case tucked away in your attic.  I know how it goes.  You play in high school, maybe a little in college.  You stop playing, but you keep the instrument, because after all maybe your kids will use it someday.  Your kids, of course, want to play different instruments.  That, too, is how it goes.  Your instrument stays in its case in the back of your closet, unplayed. 

If your instrument case happens to contain a baritone or a trombone, you might consider lending it to young Brett, or making him a good deal on a purchase.  Think of all the closet space you’ll gain.  If that sounds like an interesting idea, send me an email or a comment and I’ll put you in touch with Brett and his mom. 

Um, if that instrument case happens to contain an alto saxophone, you might let me know about that, too.  I’ve been talking to my friend Helmy who has known me a very long time, and he has expressed utter contempt for the notion that it is too late for me to pursue old dreams.