I’ve loved to sing since I was a knee-high to a magpie. I sang for anyone who would listen, and those who didn’t want to. I sang for God, and I sang just for me. I held a solo concert atop Patsy’s doghouse when I was around ten. After canvassing the trailer park personally inviting people to an event they surely wouldn’t want to miss, I climbed onto the doghouse roof and waited. Nobody came. So I performed for nobody. Nobody found out how good I was, but I was happy just to sing.
I took up trumpet at 12, the only girl trumpet player in our junior high school band. I learned quickly and developed what my director called the prettiest tone he had ever heard from a beginner. I was inspired.
In ninth grade I won the Outstanding Bandsman award for excellence in music and got an “Excellent” rating the judges said I should be proud to claim since the piece I chose was pretty ambitious for my age. I still play that solo today from memory.
In high school I earned a letter in band and won a collection of superior district and state medals for solo, ensemble, directing, and group performance and widened my musical studies to include theory, jazz band, composition, and band directing. My mother worked overtime and bought me a Bach Stradivarius for Christmas my junior year. That same year our high school band played the halftime show for the Buccaneers/Eagles playoff game, in which I did a solo to “Renegade” by Styx to a sold-out 72,000+ crowd at Tampa Stadium. I remember standing there thinking, “I have to fill this stadium with my trumpet. This is pretty crazy.” It was just me and a bass drum playing for eight bars and I played my heart out. My knees buckled coming off the field after the show and I passed out cold, but not before I had claimed my few minutes of musical fame and lived a dream I will never forget.
I taught private lessons for a few years after high school and played in the occasional community band and church program. I directed a worship orchestra and arranged all their music for a year, and sang as a worship vocalist for about 15 years. I’ve played piano since toddlerhood, but was told it didn’t really count because I played by ear. It didn’t bother me that it didn’t count; I liked being able to play pretty much anything I could hear in my head.
I really don’t think I could have escaped being a musician with all the music in the family line. I’m delighted that all of our children are musically talented and are using their talent for the Creator who gave it to them. I wove music into our homeschooling through the years, but the kids really more or less took over and taught themselves the instruments they wanted to play.
I still play both piano and trumpet, and even remember a little of the guitar my mom and brother taught me along the way. I like to think my first band director would still be proud of my tone. And still, with all my heart, I love to sing.
One of my favorite things in the world is getting together and making music as a family. I think that may be when I am at my happiest.