I’ve been praising, criticizing, listening to, writing about, talking about, going to, buying, and selling all types of music my whole life for work and for fun. The majority of my friends are musicians in bands that I adore. Most of my social activities involve live music in some way. But aside from the half-assed one-year stint playing the saxophone in my grade 4 elementary school band where the height of my success culminated at the Winter Assembly performing Claire de Lune for a gymnasium of bored parents, I’ve never actually played music.
19 years later, a very thoughtful human named Ian heard my pathetic passive cries pining to become more hands-on with the craft and got me the perfect gateway instrument for Christmas 2012 to accommodate an anxious wannabe like me: a glockenspiel.
It collected dust until September 2013 when Adam’s (my good friend who drums in basically every band in Vancouver) friend Natasha (a singer/songwriter whose band is called Catlow) was looking to fill a song for a video out with two extra instruments: violin and glockenspiel. Emily (soul-roommate) plays violin and I own a glockenspiel. You do the math.
My dialogue with Natasha began with a disclaimer. “I don’t know much about how to play music, but I like it a lot, I learn quickly, and I’m quite keen.” At our first practice, I sweated heaps and my hands shook and I asked an annoyingly large number of questions about whether I’m hitting the right note or if I’m sucking or if I am on time and what the heck “hitting it on the one” means and so on. But listen, Natasha was stoked, and we’re all gelling so well together, and who knows what comes next but I’m kiiind of in a band now!
I played my first show evaaar on January 4 to a lively crowd at the Media Club. We hung out in the green room before and had witty onstage banter and sweated so much and barely breathed and it was SO FUN. Then we got contacted to play another show and we decided I should give keys a try because glock keys are black and white and so are synth keys, so Natasha taught me some songs on a Juno-6 (it arpeggiates!) and I played my second show evaaar with the band at the Astoria on January 31 for Discorder mag’s annual fundraiser. It was packed and people danced and drank and went “WOOOOOO!” and I sweated at least twice as much and breathed half as much but I didn’t mess up and I didn’t make the band sound worse. I finally see why all my pals in bands are all uppity and ecstatic about being in a band because being in a band is like being in the best top secret club ever but you play instruments and people want to come watch you and listen to you do it and it’s SO FUN!
Taking the step from pre-band to in-band is pretty logical on paper, given my involvement in so many other areas of the musical sphere. But I’m also saying to myself, “Self, you went from not playing an instrument to playing shows in a band on two instruments within the span of a few months, and it wasn’t that hard. How did that happen?” What happened is I learned these two things:
1. Own an instrument that nobody else plays and understand how it makes sounds.
You don’t even know how to play it at first. By having an instrument nobody else does, you have no competition and a unique sound. Kids these days like that.
2. Just remember it.
The music, that is. When the band leader teaches you a part to play in a song, listen very carefully, record it, make up whatever shorthand or pneumonic or annotation or acronym or rhyme you need to make up to remember the song and then remember how to play it.
That’s it, gang. Play on.