All the cool kids join bands. When I was in junior high I was in the marching band, but other than that I have only been in performances taking place at my junior high and high school. It was always fun to be a band geek.
Last week on my run, I saw a group of people congregated on the steps of a church two villages away. There were trumpets, cornets, baritones, tubas, and trombones. They were playing simple music, such as “Mary Had a Little Lamb”, but it was so nice to see. On my way home, I stopped by to see if I could join the band. I told the conductor that had a flute and wanted to join them. He asked me if I could play the saxophone. “No, I only have a flute,” was my response. They told me when to show up for the next practice.
I came to the church, and sat on the floor with the rest of the band. As we were all sitting with our legs folded only moving to avoid the sun, I thought of my old music teachers and how they would be in shock and upset with our posture. ( I remember in high school our teacher spent a fortune on chairs specific for music, but here there were chairs at all.) The band leader wrote the score of what we would be performing on the broken chalkboard, as the members shared a single ruler to make sheet paper in their notebooks to copy the music.
There are two of each of the instruments, so the boys in the band have to take turns sharing the instruments. I remember always having to clean mouthpieces before using another person’s instrument growing up, but here we did none of the sort. There are no hard feelings from those people that sit there trying to learn the music without the instruments. They just sit and wait their turn, humming the melody.
Being in Samoa, everyone shares, and so I try to share as well. I showed a few people how to make a sound from the mouthpiece of the flute, and showed a couple the finger placements on the instruments. There is one girl that I am planning on teaching how to play. They also shared their instruments with me, and I was impressed with myself when actual notes came out of the cornet and the baritone. One of the boys tried to show me the fingering for a scale, but I quickly learned that changing your airflow for those instruments is difficult for beginners.
Next week my band will perform at a wedding, which seems so obtuse for me. It seems strange for a wedding to have a brass band there (with a single woodwind instrument). But I am sure it will be fun. Like all wedding bands we will be getting paid-in delicious Samoan food. I am really looking forward to seeing what it will be like.
I heard the other Peace Corps volunteers talking about joining a band in Apia-the National Orchestra of Samoa. I called the conductor, and will join them in their performances over the American Independence Day weekend.
Just a few weeks ago, joining a band seemed like the farthest idea in the world for me, but here I am currently in two different bands. Man does it feel good to be a band geek again!
(Picture is of one of the PCVs singing at church.)