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How I Chose My Instrument!

I started band in 7th grade. I started on the french horn 'cause my band director needed horns. I

was in beginning band for six weeks before my parents ever knew I was in band. After the first

four weeks, the director asked me to play sousaphone, mainly because I was the biggest kid and

could carry it. That ended up being my principal instrument all through college.   Bill Findeison

Many, maaany years ago, before WWII, I was going to a tiny high school in Central Valley. N.Y. The band room was on the second floor of the town fire house on the far side of the school grounds. Band was an

\excellent way to get out of boring class work, so I joined up with what may have been the worst

15-member high school band in history.  The bandmaster was a retired army guy who had no idea

how to work with teenagers, but he was fun and he loaned us his car to drive home to get "forgotten"

instruments. One of my best buddies played the alto horn, so I decided to take up the baritone. He

and I tried to have jam sessions later with my mom playing the piano. He was in E flat and I was

in B flat so you can imagine the cacaphony. Later on I decided to switch to the tuba because the

mouthpiece was bigger and the notes were lower and easier to reach. I played through the end of

high school and didn't pick up a horn again until I was in my late 40s. My wife was a concert level trumpet player and played with the old St. Pete Symphony and the Monday Night adult band at Bogie. Watching the tuba section one night during a rehearsal, I thought, "I can play this stuff." I picked up a tuba that was lying around in the music room and became a volunteer in the Monday Night Band. I searched around for a tuba and someone told me there was a big one at a junk shop in Pinellas Park. The Sousaphone was hanging from a rafter in the store and was covered with verdigris, making it appear green. I bought it for 60 bucks. I invested another $70 into having the plumbing straightened out and repaired. After several weeks of polishing, I discovered that it was an old Holton, made in Elkhart, IN. I found a phone number for the factory, which had gone out of business but still existed. A watchman answered the phone and looked up some old records on the horn. He told me it was manufactured in 1926, the same year I was born. He also said it wasn't chrome and brass, but was a silver plated bell with a gold plated inside surface. It weighed 36 pounds.  I joined the Second Time Arounders during their first year and carried that monster for several years until Bill Findeison bought styrofoam horns for the band. They weighed about half what the Holton did. I noticed when I practiced at home, I could rattle the walls and windows with the Holton but not with the plastic horns. I stayed with the Rounders for 13 years when I could no longer march with a tuba. I eventually sold the Holton for $300.  Oh, I can still blow the horn, but it is hard to play a tuba and march when you use a walker. Now I content myself with a Quesnon upright that I continued to play for some time with the Monday nighters. Now, at 82, I rarely play any more, except when I put on band recordings and toot along with the old standards. And I still love the Rounders, God bless 'em.  Rick Rutan

I knew as a small child that Dad's trumpet was in the top of the bedroom closet.  I knew that is what I wanted to play because I wanted to do what Dad did and I was told he was about the best in the county when

he was at Sheldon, IL HS.  Mom played oboe and piano and I was too much of a tomboy to

consider doing anything Mom did.  :)  Finally the time came for me to start band at Donovan, IL

JR-SR HS.  I worked very hard and loved every minute of it.  Then one of my brothers dropped

it on the basement floor, mouthpiece first.  Remember "school bags"  well, mine became my

trumpet case with a doll head scarf tied over the bell. Eventually, in a effort to remove the

mouthpiece, my Grandpa removed the entire lead pipe.  He made a new brace and soldered it

all back together.   I went through a couple used horns till my junior year in HS when I got a

shiny new silver (nickel plate) Conn Constellation.  The joy of my life.  Little did I know just

how heavy it was till I got older LOL. Needless to say, I don't march with it now.  In HS I also

taught myself sax and flute on borrowed instruments.  That gave me 2 instruments to minor on in college and helped with group instrument classes.  I even played tenor sax in summer jazz band a couple years. I picked up euphonium when my favorite TubaFours reminded me that treble clef fingered the same as trumpet.  After my first Tuba Christmas I was hooked.  Now, oh so many years later....I march trumpet in Ft. Wayne and St. Pete Rounders, and Illinois State Alumni Band, play flute in the Etowah, Tn band (there were no flutes when I started the band), and euphonium in the Cleveland, TN band (there were about 100 trumpets).  In the last year I found a copy of my original tonette book and a tonette at 2 different yard sales.  Not a band instrument, but when I was in grade school we all played them! :)   I guess I got carried away, music is something that does that to me. You may edit to your hearts' content.  Hope it at least leaves you with a smile. Grace and Peace, Ruth Sowers

The first day in band at my middle school, I didn't like the thought that I was in band. I told my band

director that I might not be in band for long and he accepted the fact that band just wasn't for me. A few

days later, we were trying out instruments in band and I just refused to play anything because I didn't

want  to embarrass myself in front of everybody. But I thought the clarinet looked cool so I asked

\if I could try out the clarinet. My band director asked somebody if they could try to teach me

how to play. I just wasn't able to make a note come out of the clarinet so I just completely decided

I didn't want to be in band. That weekend I went to my aunt and uncle's house and I told them that

I was in band. Apparently my uncle played the saxophone when he was in middle school and high

school and he was telling me what it was like when he was in band. I was interested so we went to

Bringe Music to check out the prices of saxophones. When we arrived, we immediately went to look at the saxophones on the wall while my aunt was wandering. We then asked to see a beginner sax after looking and immediately we bought it. So from then on I have played the saxophone. I now play alto saxophone in my middle school's most experienced band.  Alex

What an opportunity this is……. Wow. I started my love affair with music sixty-three years

ago. My mother played the piano (we had an old upright that was usually out of tune) and

my father played the violin. Both knew the value of the discipline gained from the study of

music although neither played much due to the difficulties brought on by the lay-off’s at the

end of the second world war. I was eager to learn. I was starting 3rd grade. Our next door

neighbor had two children that were now out on their own. One had played the clarinet and

offered it to my dad for the tidy sum of $15.00. It was an old instrument when I got it. A

metal one piece Belmar Bb Clarinet. Mother and dad arranged for me to take private lessons

from our local high school band director, Mr. Stanley Austin. By the time I was in 6th grade

I was playing in New Jersey All State Band. At the end of my 7th grade year I received a

scholarship to New York Military Academy in Cornwall, NY and attended school there till I

graduated…. I played my first professional (Paying) gig in 1951 at 13 on New Years Eve. At the American Legion Post in Hillsdale, NJ. I have kept up my playing through the last 63 years. Often with some great names in the business and also some local combos and duo’s in the New Jersey and New York state area and in the St. Petersburg, FL area. Of all the musical experiences I have had, the one that has created the most enjoyment for me and for my family has been our local, Awesome, Original, Greater St. Petersburg Area Second Time Arounders Marching Band that we have been fortunate to have played in for the last 24 years. At one time there were 7 members of my family playing in the band…..Over the years the old Belmar clarinet became a trophy and was replaced by a Pre R12 Buffet in 1947. Several other clarinets found their way into my collection and for the past 5 yrs I have been playing a 1986 Yamaha YCL-82 Custom, a sweet horn. The old Belmar still resides at my house, bruised, banged up, and layered in tarnish in a dingy old red plush lined case, waiting for me to build a shadow box to give it some dignity in it’s final resting place.  Don Hutchison

These are the true stories of how some of our valued customers discovered their love for music and their chosen instrument.  We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we did!  Have a story of your own?  Why not take a few minutes and share it with us so we can share it with others! 

When I was in elementary school, Mom took my sister and me to see and hear a drum

and bugle corps performance. The drummers fascinated me, and I can remember thinking,

“That’s what I’m going to play,” rather than “I hope that’s what I’ll be able to play.” In

seventh grade, my study hall period was the same as the senior high band director’s free

period. He’d have me come over to the band room and give me a daily lesson. The

senior high head drummer was in an industrial arts class in the shop next door, and he’d

slip out to check on my progress. The next year I played snare drum in the senior high

band as an eighth-grader. That continued into high school. We moved to another town

where the school had a 16-piece dance band as a daily class. That’s when I started reading

big band charts. Over the years I’ve continued to play in big bands, combos, and pit orchestras. I’m currently playing for our contemporary services at church. I still keep my practice pad and copy of George Stone’s “Stick Control” close at hand. Paul Cooper  St. Petersburg

I took up the piano at age 5 or 6, playing mostly by ear until I started lessons at about

age 8 or 9.  Around the same time, in 4th grade, we had to take an audio/music test

to see if we were tone deaf or not.  Having passed with flying colors I was offered the

choice of any band or orchestra instrument I wanted to play.  I chose the drums,

surprising the music teachers.  “Are you sure, little girl?” they asked dubiously. 

I was!  Took drum lessons (and glockenspiel) in school for 5 years, and piano privately

for 6.  Taught myself trumpet in high school while leader of the “hockey” (pep) band since we were occasionally short of trumpet players.  I’ve since learned a little banjo and am trying to teach myself guitar and mandolin, but I’m afraid I’m not much of a string player.  Now in my mid 40s, it still gives me great joy to play both keyboards and drums on a regular basis. Daisy Ash

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When I was young my mom said she played clarinet in band and my father played drums and

trombone.  I wanted to be musical too.  I told my mom I wanted to play drums and she laughed

at me and told me to pick something a little more quiet, so I chose the clarinet.  I played from

4th grade thru high school where I learned a few other instruments but the clarinet was always

my favorite.  I lost my horn to water damage a few years back so I don’t play much now but I

never forgot the days of band.  I got my clarinet from right there at Bringe and never had

another one.  Never had the heart to purchase a new one.  Thanks, Bringe, for bringing music

into my life.  Laquisha Roundtree  

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