I’m not sure about perfect — a very discouraging word, in my books — but practicing sure does improve you a lot. When K first chose his instrument almost three years ago now, I must admit we were a little dismayed. He was (and still is) a rather skinny kid, and not the tallest in the class, either. In fact, he sits firmly in the middle height-wise, though in weight, he is a lightweight. A so-skinny-it-is-impossible-to-find-pants-that-fit-or-shirts-that-don’t-hang-off-him sort of lightweight. When he first dragged home a tuba, I couldn’t decide if I should curse the music teacher or fall over laughing from the sheer ridiculousness of the sight.
K needed to sit on two phone books to be able to reach the mouthpiece, you see, and the damn thing weighed almost as much as he did when you put it in its hard protective case. Thank goodness for a wheeled trolley or he would never have managed to walk it home. And he did walk it home, once a week for two years, pulling the trolley behind him and manhandling the massive twist of brass into position so he could play.
Had K been an instant musical prodigy, we would have cheered and clapped and celebrated every note. But, as is true for most people, the first time he put his mouth to the mouthpiece, he sounded rather like a duck. A deep-voiced duck, to be sure, but still a duck. The second week, he still sounded like a duck. And the third. A slightly more melodious duck, but still a duck.
But little by little, his technique improved and the true deep oompah voice of the tuba became a familiar one to our ears.
And little by little, he tired of playing the same few notes that provide the deep, rich underpinings of a piece of beginning music for new players. Somewhere late in the second year, he grew tired of playing the tuba. He tried valiantly to stick it out, but it was clear that the passion for the tuba was gone.
Enter the baritone.
Smaller, lighter, and not requiring a phone book, the baritone had a much more interesting role to play in the pieces they were playing. (And, as an added bonus, it was much easier to lug home week after week.) And playing the baritone was fun. So fun, in fact, that K decided to join the school band. Early morning practices, after school practices, and a demanding and time-consuming lot of practice later, he still loves playing the baritone.
So much so, in fact, that he pestered the music teacher into letting him keep one at home so he could practice every day.
Which he does.
He loves playing that baritone.
And we love listening.