…is obviously Italian!

I am enjoying being a member of a wind band here in the Netherlands, and I’ve now been playing with them for over a year. And this blog post has been in my mind for nearly that long! I used to play in two orchestras and a wind quintet before I had children (though only the wind quintet survived that upheaval), so I was keen to join a group once we’d moved. A concert band wasn’t what I had in mind, but it’s what I’ve found and they’re very friendly and welcoming to me. It is a real community as lots of the players have been part of it for many years, and their husband/wife/children/parents etc are in it too. Of the 10 clarinet players I am one of three that doesn’t have a relation in the band. Somehow this means there’s a lot of old men though, which is a demographic missing from the groups I used to play in!

  As a concert band we’ve played four or five times during the last year, and a couple of times I couldn’t make. So it’s been interesting to see how they maintain the body of work we can play, as well as rehearsing new material. The only piece I’ve really struggled in a concert to play was the Dutch National Anthem on King’s Day; and we were playing for the town celebration in front of the town hall with all the dignitaries and war veterans etc. Not knowing the tune and having not rehearsed it all meant I was lost before we had played very much at all. I must practice that for this year…

I’ve also realized that the more I think about what I play the worse it is. My fingers can do it by themselves without conscious direction, or so it seems. Makes me think I should practice my scales more! I do end up ignoring most of what the conductor says, as I don’t understand the Dutch; my music related vocabulary is increasing slowly though and I’m getting good practice with my numbers. I did get very confused when he went on holiday and the guy standing in for him was left handed and beat time the other way round. It took me a long time that rehearsal to work it out!

One benefit to the big group is that in the break in the middle of our rehearsal we go to the room next door where there is a small bar for refreshments. And serving behind the bar is something we take turns doing, which does help you get to know people across the group. My big achievement last time I was on bar duty was to pour a beer that the drinkers were happy with. I have really struggled with this, despite having worked in a bar in the UK, as the glasses are tiny and you should pour it with a huge head on the beer (about a third of the glass – but not more!). Fingers crossed I’ve got the trick of it now.

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