Every Tuesday and Thursday, the Dakota State University concert band meets. Every Tuesday and Thursday Megan, Jenny Sixta, and I make the trek, usually by car, up to the Dakota Prairie Playhouse to play our clarinets. Because of our devotion and talent, we own the third clarinet section.
DSU does band differently than Milbank did band. In Milbank, at first, we would be arranged most courageous to most boy. Because of this, our first day in band, Corey Rolfes and I were last chairs. Boys in the high-register winds section always get shafted. Just because girls can sing higher doesn’t mean they can play higher. Thankfully for me, Milbank then had a sorting audition, and I got put in my rightful spot.
DSU doesn’t rank its players. This means that, once again, I am the last player in the clarinet section. This also means that the alpha females compete for the first chair position, often resulting in bloody carnage minutes before a rehearsal. “Passive-aggressive” is definitely a synonym for “alive”.
Still, I like my position. I firmly believe that every part in a piece of music is important. So, I have no qualms about playing a third part. Third parts often have challenging, musical aspects that make them just as viable as any other piece of music. Still, the clarinet is meant to go high. So, the only consolation I get in playing third is that it is typically written low and I like that sound.
It reminds me the final blast of the Titanic’s horn as it sets sail for America. Okay, maybe that’s a little over the top, but it is definitely a beautiful sound laced in tragic irony. Or something like that.
The other good thing is that, because of college band, Megan and Jenny can sit next to me. This is important because they make me play all the parts that the audience has a chance of hearing, which means most of the music. Megan, who I recruited and who then recruited Jenny, claims that she just goes along with Jenny’s insecurities and that she could actually play those parts as loud as they needed to be.
This year, though, there was an unexpected change. I began taking bassoon lessons this semester. The bassoon is a messed up instrument. It has two reeds. This means that you can make twice as many squeaks, wrong notes, and mess ups as a typical reed instrument. It goes by the moniker, The Farting Bedpost, on account of its shape and smell. Naw, just joshing!
I took on the bassoon to have something new to learn, to get some more credits, and to make my life even more busy. It turns out, however, that Mr. Hegg wants me to play this thing in the concert. And, of course, it will be a solo. Well, thank God for that. Now I have a solo to play, I have Jenny crying “traitor” and Megan putting on her brave face saying, “I’ll support you,” when she actually means, “I hate you.”
The solo isn’t going well, however. You see, they hadn’t counted on the fact that I suck at this new instrument. It sounds tons better if there is an entire band behind me, but the other day he had just me and the piccolo play our duet. I am the weakest link. Megan said later that, just for the record, she didn’t laugh until I did.