It’s Instrumental

My younger daughter enters middle school next year. She’s a small girl with a big personality. She’s been feeling a little sensitive about her size compared to her classmates’, who are all undergoing major growth spurts – especially the girls. But I feel confident she’ll fit right in. She’s a pistol.

When she went for an orientation at her new school last week, she spent part of the evening choosing an instrument to learn in band class.  Her older sister plays the flute, and there was an assumption that she’d do the same. It was the first instrument the middle school music teacher handed her. She positioned her lips over the mouthpiece and blew a pretty good first note. The teacher looked pleased.

Next came the clarinet. She did okay, but her arms looked awkward grasping the long body. She wasn’t a fan, and neither was I.

The teacher bypassed the trombone (far too big for her to handle) and picked up a trumpet. I’d almost told the teacher not to bother, we’ll go for flute, thanks, see you in the fall.

But when she picked it up and put her lips to the mouthpiece, something remarkable happened. She blew a big, strong, long and brassy note that sounded to the heavens. Her dad, the teacher and I were still for a moment. Then the teacher asked her to try again. She blew another clear note, even longer and stronger.

And so, come fall, my little girl will be making some big noise as she heralds the arrival of the school year with her new instrument.

Heaven help us.


It’s Instrumental

I thought that a flute
With its trills and toots
Might fill her room
With its silvery tunes.

Or a clarinet
Half a jazz duet
With its licorice voice
Might be her choice.

Or she’d try a sax
Mellow to the max
The bend in its bell
Letting sweet notes swell.

Maybe she’d come home
With a xylophone
Sounding soft and clear
And so nice to hear.

But with typical sass
She chose the brass:
A trumpet to blare
bravely through the air.

Now she’s eager to play
Practicing night and day
I give praise and cheers
And then — plug my ears.


©2011 Carlotta Eike Stankiewicz


3 thoughts on “It’s Instrumental

  1. If she’s a pistol, then she’s perfect for the trumpet. I taught trumpet for awhile in middle school and high school, and it sounds like she’s a natural. Let her run with it. She could do amazing things. You are blessed.

  2. You know, I went through a similar process in the 5th grade. I wanted to play the trumpet soooo badly. The teacher handed me just the mouthpiece – tell me how this is supposed to prove anything – and said, “Blow.” I did. Canadian geese from around the country bent their heads in silence thinking it was the last honk of a dying kinsmen. He took it away from me and said, “No. Next student.” And that was the end of it.

    Thank goodness that band teacher wasn’t my last chance at music. Two years later, I picked up the saxophone (which turned out to be the instrument that I most identified with at 12 years old) and I didn’t put it down for a looong time. With the help of two private teachers, I learned to play my heart out – even if MY parents had to cheer and plug their ears.

    Very nice piece.

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