Thursday 3 November 2011

Sax Bomb!


Do you remember when I talked about embracing your long-abandoned childhood creativity and rediscovering lost talents?

Ah. Well, it was a few weeks ago.

Anyway...having realised that the only way I can now use music as a stress release is by playing thrash metal CDs really loudly, I decided it was time to revisit my old First Instrument.

(A First Instrument is the one you practice and the neighbours don't bang on the wall and audibly weep until you stop).

I begged to be given music lessons as a child, and then proceeded to hate and tantrum about every second of every single one until I was finally allowed to play the saxophone. I'm not sure whether it was the appeal of finally getting to emulate my sister-from-another-mother Lisa Simpson, or the tantalising possibility of being able to play the hook from Your Latest Trick by Dire Straits, but apparently I had finally found something I was willing to apply myself to.

I was lucky though- I had an excellent teacher.

 This is not her.

Miss Hemsworth not only made me feel like I'd found something musical that I wasn't completely useless at, she also made me realise that playing music (even the kind of music you took exams for) was a passport to being  cool. She was the person who encouraged me to try jazz, to dip my toes into improvisation, who pushed me into doing Music GCSE as an extra, and cheered me on when I formed my first band off the back of my composition for the exam (and played bass for us for a while). 

When she left our school, I gave up the saxophone. It made sense at the time. I was playing lead guitar in a band, and standing on my own in our freezing cold dining room playing Charlie Parker runs, or going to yet another dullsville lunchtime Jazz Band practice with the music geeks didn't match up to rocking out with my fellow indie kids and pretending I was in Elastica. I could always come back to the saxophone, I thought. It is my First Instrument, after all. It is the thing I am Truly Gifted And Good At.
 Needless to say, I didn't come back to it. A few forays into some highly dubious ska-punk bands aside, I have not touched my saxophone for 15 years. 15! How old am I! Unsurprisingly, I can do little more than honk out a few skronky notes and weep over the loss of my former greatness.

 But I have the horns of the bull in my hands. Tomorrow, ladies and gentlemen, I am going to have my first saxophone lesson since 1995. I have no doubt the neighbours will weep and pummel their fists on the walls, but maybe, just maybe, after a few skronky months with a sock down my bell (not as painful as it sounds, promise) I might just be belting out Take Five with the best of them again.

He can join in too


  1. Good luck!!! Such a fab idea, you may have to pop some youtubing footage up here?!

    I was considering revisiting my first (clarinet which isn't quite as cool) until Tuesday when I found out my mum SOLD it! How dare she! Surely she must have known that 12 years after vowing not to play again I would need it back?

    Have so much fun xx

  2. Yaaaaay go Penny!! Let me know how it goes - I might just be inspired enough to dust off the old cello again (for non-photoshoot-related purposes this time).

    Bella, that is terrible! You need to get a new one, then we can start up a bloggers' sax-clarinet-cello ensemble. Which wouldn't sound weird at all.

  3. Funny that. Just last night I was thinking about digging the violin out. Haven't played since I was 15 and it badly needs tuning but I'm sure I'd sound brilliant.

  4. Two words: Blog Orchestra.



  5. Blorchestra would rock! The worst thing was they have kept all of my sister's instruments (and I mean ALL - my parents were musicians so we never had to beg for lessons, we had to beg not to go) so I think that may be a bit of a slight on my talent, right?

  6. You need to learn one of your sister's instruments, you may find your undiscovered First Instrument! Also. They wouldn't let me learn the clarinet at primary school because I wasn't musical enough,so I'm just not down with clarinets for Blorchestra as they make me feel inferior. How about the French horn? Or a theremin?


  7. You are never to old to return to an instrument you played you were young. I play guitar and sing, but years ago I played piano. That has been on my mind whenever I hear Kevin, our choirmaster at church, play that massive pipe organ. Now I just need to find the cable to my keyboard... lol. I wish you the best in your endeavor. For inspiration, just listen to Craig Shields. He is in the Edwin McCain band, and he is totally awesome on the sax....