The Broken Clarinet

Written by Aaron ⋅ Published on Saturday, 2nd March, 2013

The day after I graduated from high school, I stepped onto a bus & left to play clarinet in a marching band for three weeks. Stops on the tour included Oregon, Chicago, & Detroit. We slept on air mattresses in school gymnasiums. We played in competitions & parades, occasionally with rain soaking through our uniforms while thunder announced lightening was not far away.

Music was my thing in high school. I started with clarinet in grade six, & eventually moved to bass clarinet; I also played tenor sax in jazz bands. The high school I attended had several wind ensembles & jazz bands but there was no marching band. I’d never considered joining a marching band outside of school. When I was in grade twelve, I made a few new friends who played in the Regina Lions marching band; near the end of the school year, they mentioned the band needed another clarinet & I volunteered. This was the most reckless & spontaneous thing I’d done as a teenager; you might say my adolescence was somewhat lackluster. Memorizing all the music & choreography in three weeks wasn’t easy but I worked really hard. When I think back now, I still think it was a great way to end high school.

On days when we didn’t perform in a competition or parade, we’d practice. For hours. In the sun or rain. Occasionally on fields that evidently didn’t get a lot of funding for upkeep. One morning on my way out to practice, I stumbled over something in the grass. Every muscle in my body froze. There had been this snap; it wasn’t overly loud but told me the object was of far more value than a twig. I looked down. I’d tripped over one of the other players clarinets. Her clarinet was now severed in two. The clarinet is an instrument designed to come apart in a certain way but this really really wasn’t it.

The girl was furious when she found out; then she smiled, told me her clarinet had broken in the same place before & she knew how to fix it so I shouldn’t feel bad. I still felt horrible. That day at lunch, I felt like nobody would sit with me & I might have been content to become invisible but I kept going. Slowly that day went on, the tour gradually continued to be an amazing experience but I’ll always remember the day I learned sometimes life goes how you expect & sometimes you break a clarinet.

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  • Aaron G. Moore