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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I Am Not Ian Anderson, and That's Okay

Yesterday I was thrilled to discover that my flute music had arrived in the mail. I had ordered a book of flute solos by Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull fame, and finally, finally…it was here.
As I’ve written here before, music was a big part of my childhood; my link to my father, in a sense. Jethro Tull was a staple over the years, and I learned each song – each instrument, each inflection of tone – not by intention, but because it was so often there, in the background or foreground, playing.
When I picked up the flute for band in elementary school, I wasn’t thinking of this music I knew so well. I just thought it was a cool instrument. Over the years, the music of my childhood faded, as it is wont to do, into the shadows of modern favourites – music that is loud and current and much more easily there. I sold my flute, too, much to my later regret. Years went by, and I’d get the occasional ache for it; even found myself fingering a note…placing my fingers rigidly in the air, hearing it in my head…on occasion. Jen would placate me by letting me her play her old flute once in a while, and I was always surprised at what I remembered. I’d pick out Pachelbel’s Canon and remember the angst of not being able to read music in high school band. I faked it well, though, listening once then knowing it. Picking the notes out of the air and fixing them in my head the way I sometimes can…turning that memory switch not to “on” but to “turbo” and burning something there. An excellent skill if you want to attain straight “A”s in University, but not easily explained. I did the same in choir. While others followed the notes on the page, I’d find the song in my head and follow it there, hearing it like the first time I heard it, and matching my voice to the notes.
As one ages, one tends to turn back to the things that made them happy long ago, don’t they? My mp3 player holds not only recent favourites, but is packed with the music of my childhood and teenage years. When I was pregnant with Aidan, I got the chance to see Jethro Tull in concert and jumped at it. Yeah, I threw up in my mouth a bit during the concert, but the overpowering hormones of pregnancy did not stop me from enjoying the show. They were amazing…Anderson was amazing…and my ache to play again was stronger than ever.
About a year ago, I bought a cheap flute on eBay, with a couple books, and got re-acquainted with an old friend. Even better, I learned to read music, and found myself more comfortable with the instrument than I ever had been. A very expensive upgrade was soon to follow, and I’ve played as much as I could ever since.
Somehow, though, I held back from that music I so yearned to play. I played traditional Irish tunes and Christmas songs, and played them, and played them.
And played them some more.
I think I wanted to be ready. I wanted to feel like I was worthy of attempting something by Anderson; didn’t even want to look at the music. So yesterday, when I got my music in the mail, it felt like…well it felt like a reward.
This morning I listened to Bouree, following it with my eyes, then picking it out on the flute. Each note attained was joy. When I could play the first part, it felt like something clicked…like I’d come full circle.
Then, after that first simple melody, came the solo. And I was most thoroughly knocked down. Listening to it, I came to a realization:
I will never, in my life, play like this man.
Anderson sings with his flute, sings into it, makes it sing. It’s not a flute – it’s an extension of him. With it, he screams, cries, moans, whispers gently. He makes us feel. That music isn’t work for him. It’s just…him. He soars.
I won’t play like him, no. I am in awe of him. And though I could be disappointed at this realization, I’m not…somehow, it feels so good to know that though I can aspire, I could never be like that.
I’m something different.


At 11:02 AM, Blogger s@bd said...

I LOVE jethro tull and would DIE to see him live.a

At 1:10 PM, Blogger deepoet said...

You're so lucky to have actually seen the man play. And, I've had a love affair with the guitar all my life, but really, no one could get me to that good music-listening place like Mr. Anderson sometimes. For me, sometimes, that's all there is. Music. And gingersnaps with milk, of course.

At 9:41 PM, Blogger Laura_Rob said...

Oh how I miss thee
I write in rhyme
just this one time
Tell me some news
of all that does amuse
tomorrow I explain
and try to refrain
from being a fool
instead Ill stay super cool.


At 12:50 PM, Blogger deepoet said...

Treesey-girl, where are you? Your words are my window...

At 10:24 PM, Blogger The Mater said...

You'll play like you and that will suffice. I'm making friends with my childhood instrument too and feel like it still has lots to teach me.

Fellow pilgrims, you and I. Miss your emails ... drought season is upon us.

You take care!


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