Thursday, July 22, 2010

Blowing my Own Horn

I never expected to turn into a full-time musician, I really didn't.

About 2 years ago, somebody rang me and asked if I could teach their son Euphonium. I said yes. Then, somebody rang me and asked if I could teach their son Tuba. I said yes. Actually these calls were 'overflow' from my husband's workload. He already teaches high school, plus he used to do a bit of private teaching on brass instruments, but he really doesnt want to do it any more. I had a lot of trepidation, but my hubby kept saying, "You can do it!". So I did it.

Since then, my music teaching business has flourished. Those two boys are growing into confident young musicians. The tuba-player, when he first came to me, sounded like a foghorn blowing through a murky swamp, and he couldn't read music at all. He had no confidence and spent an awful lot of time slumping and putting his tuba down on the floor. Bit by bit, I built a rapport with him, plus I stuck it to him about needing to practice. Now I am proud to say, he actually sounds good. He reads music. He makes a big fat tuba sound!

My eupho boy, Julian, is a moppy blond mad-scientist of a kid. Words are his thing, and he is a talented public speaker, debater, and actor. I discovered something about Julian. He can't read rhythms very easily. He is poor at maths, too, apparently, and I wonder if that is somehow related. But he understands rhythms if they are explained to him in words. You know how certain phrases have a natural rhythm embedded in them?

"Peanut butter jelly time, peanut butter jelly time - peanut butter, peanut butter, peanut butter and a baseball bat!"

Julian's music which he plays for band is covered with my pencil handwriting. The convention in jazz is to use "Ba da DEE dum, de-do DEE-doo, da-da DUM" kind of thing. But I like to make kids laugh. So my words look like this: "Eat a girAFFE, can you HUR-RY, we'll be LATE."

I have 6 other students besides these ones, with room for more.

I always loved music as a young person. I played piano, trumpet and sax in high school. With 20:20 hindsight I am now wondering why I didn't choose to pursue it as a career earlier? I guess I did not think music was 'real work', i.e., something that is painful and a hard slog. I might have also wondered if it would bring in steady money. (But I think the main factor was I would not have thought I was good enough.)

Ironically, teaching private students brings in excellent money. And, I find it fun. I really do. And the kids make me want to play all my intruments more. I have improved heaps since I started teaching.

Recently I decided to get myself some more trumpet lessons. As I have mentioned before, I play in a Band with other folks who are professional musicians. It's a pretty awesome Band with a long fancy name, but everyone calls it Marty's Band, 'cuz Marty is the conductor. We cut a CD about a month ago. I am not by any stretch the best musician in it, but that just makes me keen to improve.

Anyhow, I was checking out the website of this dude called Ralph Pyl, who is one of Australia's best jazz trumpet players. He lives near me. I thought, "You know, I'm going to ring him and ask if he will teach me."

He wasnt home, so I left a message.

When my hubby came home, I said, "If Ralph Pyl calls, it'll be for me."

Layne just looked at me, like: WHAT did you do???

I said, "Yeah, I rang and left a message asking if he wants to teach me trumpet. I said who I was, and that I play in Marty's Band."

A little while later, Ralph actually called me and he said, "Strictly speaking, I don't teach...but...."

We had a little chat. The upshot: I am starting lessons with him in September.

Oh. My. God. WHAT did I do?

Now pardon my language, but before I play in front of Ralph Pyl I am going to practice like a mo-fo. I have to go and play now folks!

Hope you are all doing well!


  1. That is GREAT Michaela!!!! Just think, you could have chickened out and not went through with the call. But you DID it, and look what happened!!! Awesome, I'm so exited for you! (make sure to take breaks while practicing like a mo-fo! LOL)

  2. wow i am so proud of you honey! that is amazing.

    smiles, bee

  3. A SCREAMING YAY! [did you hear that Australia?]

    That is the BEST thing I have heard in, I don't know, FOREVER!

    YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY [Yes, Australia, it IS the nutsy Yank Skippy screaming. Get over. :)]

    I am SO FREAKIN' excited for you. Awesome.

    okay...I am calm now. and not a threat to AUS. heehee....but OMG that is so COOL.

    Can I come and watch. Please?

    Congrats - and now go practice like a mofo. Blessings.

  4. ROFL! Thank you gals, you are all SO SWEET! I am lucky to have friends like you! Mwah... xxx

  5. Well done and good for you!

    I've always loved music and miss playing. My H.S. band days are some of my fondest memories. I wish I'd kept it up and sometimes I feel it's too late to start again. Your post has caused me to re-think that position.


  6. That is SOOOOOOOO Awesome!!!! Good for you Michaela!!!! xoxo Michelle

  7. ha ha! I love how you say "excuse my language" and yet you don't *actually* swear. You're so funny!
    Good luck on the horn, I'm so happy for you for finding your joy again!

  8. Darling girl, do you have ANY idea what mo-fo actually means?

    Randall, Im glad to be of some inspiration. By all means, play something. It is impossible for anyone to be unhappy and play a musical instrument at the same time. I think it would make a great antidote to your 'real' job ;-)