I was a prodigy...and then the music left me for 13 years.
|Music was my "thing", you could say. Since I was very young, I was very musical, beginning with the piano. My first piano teacher was a functional alcoholic that taught me that "All Cows Eat Grass" and yelled at me a lot, but that was about it. My next piano teacher was Mrs. Blair. Mrs. Blair was a classical piano teacher. I happened to like blues, jazz, and anything you could improvise upon. That was a problem. I refused to practice the piano and when my mother asked me why, I told her that I did not want to play classical and that Mrs. Blair would not allow me to play jazz or blues. My mother, through much negotiation and prayer, convinced Mrs. Blair that, for every classical piece I learned, she would allow me to play one blues or jazz piece of my choosing. It was better than nothing. So I learned to play the piano and was playing Scott Joplin in no time. School band came along. First, in fourth grade, it was mandatory that everyone learn to play the recorder. That, frankly, was boring. In fifth grade, however, you could choose a band instrument and my mother chose the flute for me. I was extremely talented at the flute and soon grew tired of it. It was a wimpy instrument that played all of the "nice" and "classical" parts of the pieces. The next band instructor we had was a trumpet player. Now that was exciting. The trumpet. I begged my parents to let me try it. My parents, not rich in the slightest, went to a pawn shop and found an old King trumpet, heavy as all get out and losing its finish, but it was a good instrument. I still have it. The trumpet was my forte. I could play anything and, in junior high, was writing my own music and transposing scores. As a freshman in high school, I had all the solos. I even made the State Music Festival, but ended up not going because the requirement was that I wear clothing that was against my values. My parents never could understand that. My values, though, were all I had, and I stuck to them. I valued music. I learned to play the clarinet, the trombone, the trap set, all while keeping up with my trumpet. I could play altissimo trumpet, which was the register above high C for anyone who knows the trumpet. Many hated me for it. The crowd, though, loved it when I broke out a solo or an improvisation. I often got standing ovations. I graduated high school and continued with my music writing and my trumpet playing until I joined the military.
Then there was the War. Combat robbed me of my talents and left me scarred with PTSD and Depression. It also robbed me of my spirituality. I read my Bible daily when I was in the Middle East just to stay sane. I have not read it since I got out of battle 13 years ago. I have not played music since I got out of combat 13 years ago, either. The music left me. My spirit left me. My soul died in the Desert. Or so it seemed. I played the piano for my fellow patients in the psych ward once. I attempted to play the trumpet in a church ensemble. Unsuccessfully. Music was just too painful. Then, this February, I decided I wanted to learn to play the guitar for some odd reason. My spouse bought me a starter guitar so that I could try it out. An amazing thing happened. I could not put it down. I would play it in the morning before my graduate classes, and before bed, and every time I could fit it in any other time of the day. I looked at better guitars and found one I liked. A Cordoba acoustic-electric. That and a Fender amp. I gave my doctor a photo of me with my new guitar yesterday. He asked me if I ever write my own songs. "I used to," I said, surprised at the admission. And then the music began to flow again in my head. Now I have no shortage of material for lyrics from my experiences in life. The music comes to my mind easily, naturally, intrinsically. I just ordered some manuscript paper so that I can begin writing music again. I just hope I remember how...