Moline Memories - MHS 66 Friends

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Growing Up Flutist

I played the flute for my overbite.

I tested high enough in music to be given an instrument to play. I wanted to play the drums, but my mother conspired with the authorities to have me play flute, to help my overbite. My sister already played the flute and my younger brother was cornered into playing the flute as well. "Drummers were a dime a dozen," and they needed flute players.

I learned to enjoy classical music and to appreciate the difficulties of group performance. Thanks to my mother's insistence, I had private lessons from Mr. Youngdahl, who died of cancer. His wife taught English at Moline High, instilling fear and trembling in all her students. Like Mrs. Emory at Garfield, she could and did smile, every so often. No one missed their love of teaching and their concern for their students. Mr. Hedrich also tried to improve my playing, and he was an excellent teacher.

I started flute in fourth grade, and no one attached a gender to the instrument. A few years later, I was taunted, "You have to sit with all the girls." That lasted a relatively short time.

Later they said, "You get to sit with all the girls." And I did, through high school and into college. But there, at Augustana, flutists were a dime a dozen and I got to be a spare in the percussion section. I played my father's Depression era beer glasses in Carmina Burana's In Taberna. On tour, the kids thought I was a real star in the section, while the percussionists growled at putting up with a no-talent interloper. The band director, Opheim, loved the glasses. They broke during one concert, and my musical career was shattered.