Instruments I Play.

When I tell people about myself, I often say writing is my profession, but music is my passion. Theroughout my life I have used music to move in and out of educational institutions, churches and relationships.

My parents got me piano lessons in elementary school, but I did not like to practice. Playing outside was more fun.

But practice I did until Grade IV in the Toronto Conservatory of Music program. Then my mentor Ben Horch rescued me. Ho told my Dad I should learn to play an instrument so as to be able to join his Mennonite Community Orchestra.

He took my Dad and me to Croft Music in Winnipeg and we bought a used single French horn. I took lessons from Mr. Horch for several years. He taught me how to love music. We would play scales and arpeggios at the beginning of each lesson.

Then he would say: “Let’s have some fun!” We turned to the back of the lesson book and found duets, me playing the lead and Mr. Horch accompanying. I loved playing those duets..

I played the horn in his orchestra first, and in an ensemble in high school, a symphonic band in college and in churches.

Eventually I changed to the tenor saxophone.

Playing a brass instrument like the horn meant I could also play the trumpet. But when I got to the sax, a woodwind, I had to learn a whole new fingering chart. A year of lessons did the trick.

My family and I attended church in those days, and I got my daughters to bring the instruments they could play to church for Sunday morning worship.

One time we left a church. Mid-week rehearsal was the last time I went there, playing with my friends, free of church politics that had split us.

Diane and I travelled around the world, taking passengers to exotic destinations. Many times I took my instrument along and found a church in the city to play in alone. I loved the sound of music echoing through cathedrals.

On our tours we often had musicians perform for our passengers, and sometimes I played along, although most of them were far better then me.

The final thing I did before putting my instruments away was make music with kids in WestEnd Commons, where I lived.

Sister Alice and introduced them to ukuleles, recorders, an autoharp and drums. The kids took music lessons in school as well, and performed as a group at WestEnd Commons gatherings..

Sister Alice and I remain good friends. Most of the families with children who played in our group have moved out of the Commons, but she keeps in touch with them.

I always encourage anyone that plays a musical instrument to keep it up.

Music enhances life.

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