Wednesday, April 29, 2015


When Jay was in middle school, he played saxophone. At first, I don’t think you could call it playing: he blew it. I thought that Wendy with trumpet was awful when she started, but we almost made Jay go to the barn to practice the sound was so screechy and twangy! But . . . we stuck it out, and he became pretty good during those three years.

He announced during the summer before he began high school that he wasn’t going to be in the band—he just wanted to play soccer. We were disappointed, but we didn’t really know what to do about it. We didn’t feel that we could force him to be in the band, and besides, he had a pretty good reason for not continuing music in high school: he thought it was ridiculous to march with an instrument in his mouth. He could trip, fall, and knock his teeth out.

Wendy came home from college for the summer shortly after his decision. When he told her what he was going to do, she said, “Let’s go outside.” Before I tell you the rest of the story, I need to inform you that Wendy was in band all through middle and high school, and she had very definite feelings about her little brother’s participation.

They were outside for about fifteen minutes. When they came back inside, Jay announced that he’d be in band but that he was going to play xylophone. What? He didn’t know how to play xylophone! How would he learn before school started? Wendy had convinced him that if he could play piano, and he could, he could play mallets. And he did.

I honestly don’t remember how he learned except that he picked up mallets and played. I guess Wendy talked to John Buck, the band instructor, and told him that her little brother could learn and that he should accept him in the Pine Forest Band.

He not only learned how to play, but during the summer between his sophomore and junior years, he toured with Suncoast Sound Drum and Bugle Corps and even learned to play drums while he was with the Corps. So . . . at the end of his life at twenty-four, my boy could play piano, keyboards, drums, xylophone, guitar, bass . . . and saxophone (soprano, alto, and tenor), sounding for all the world like Kenny G.

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