Blogtember Day 3: Advice

Thursday, September 5, 2013


Challenge: Pass on some useful advice or information you learned and always remembered.

Today I will divulge something embarrassing about myself.

I was a band geek.

Not only was I a band geek but I also played one of the least feminine instruments of all – the saxophone.

When I was growing up, my Grandma Sharon always talked about how much she loved jazz music. I remember her telling me all about her favorite saxophone players and songs she loved that featured zippy little alto solos. In the summer when I came to visit her and my granddad, sometimes she would take me for car rides into town in her green convertible.  She would play songs from her favorite artists and she’d turn up the volume a little when we’d pass the Amish trotting along with their horse and buggy, winding down the back country roads. I’d lean my head out the window and close my eyes as the wind kicked up my hair and the notes filled my ears. A little piece of heaven those memories are to me.

In the 5th grade, I got the chance to play in the school band and I was so excited to start learning music. When it came time for me to pick an instrument, thanks to my Grandma Sharon, I knew exactly what I wanted to play. I remember walking around our local music shop with my parents looking at all the shiny brass saxophones and pointing to the alto when my dad asked me which instrument I liked best.

“The saxophone?” My mom asked, looking at me funny. “But it’s so heavy. You know you’re going to have to lug this up and down the stairs at school twice a week.”

“Yep, I know!” I said.

“Are you sure you don’t want to play something smaller, like the clarinet?” She asked trying to convince me to pick something that was lighter, both for me and their wallets.

But I had made my decision. I was going to play my grandma’s favorite instrument and learn to be a jazz musician.

After weeks of lessons on the basics of reading music, learning the parts of a saxophone, figuring out what a reed was all about, and blowing my brains out into only the mouthpiece and neck of the sax, my band teacher Mr. Osment, gave us our first assignment that actually involved the whole instrument. I was finally going to start playing music! Our task was to put our instrument together and play a “G.”

When I got home that evening, I carefully assembled my shiny little Yamaha. I placed my fingers on the correct keys, took a big breath just like I had practiced, and blew into the instrument expecting a beautiful G. Much to my surprise, the awful squawk that resulted was far from beautiful.


Horrible, awful sounds erupted from the horn every time I tried to play. It had seemed so easy. I had the instrument set up, I knew what keys to press, and I was holding the proper embouchure, or at least I thought so, but I still could not play a G!

I took off my neck strap, tossed my sax onto the couch, and began to cry. My frustration had driven me to tears and I was so defeated I wanted to give up. Not only could I not play the saxophone but I knew this would disappoint my Grandma, too.

I called for my mom. She opened the door to her bedroom upstairs and poked her head out asking what was wrong. (She told me later that she and my dad had actually retreated from the terrible noise!) She could see how upset I was and came down to console me.

“I’m done! I give up!” I shouted through my sobs.

She sat with me and dried my tears. “There are things in life that won’t come easy,” she said, “but think of all of the opportunities you’ll miss if you let the tough stuff get the best of you.”

That day she taught me the importance of not giving up after the first little bump in the road, explaining to me that everyone has to start somewhere. It’s useless to throw in the towel when you’ve only just begun to learn something new. If you give up the moment things start to get rocky, you'll never get anywhere in life. I have always been a bit of a perfectionist and I can get easily discouraged when things don’t pan out exactly as I had expected them to. But from time to time, I'll recall my mother's words and it helps me to dig a little deeper. Especially in my marriage.

To this day, I will never forget when she said “Honey, no one was born knowing how to play a G.”

It has stuck with me ever since.


  1. This is good advice, and advice I am actually trying to get though to my sister. Maybe I'll have her read this post :)

    1. Thank you and I'm glad you stopped by! It's definitely something I will never forget.