music sheet on stand

Making music again

Despite most people knowing me for the steel pan, my first instrument (ignoring the recorder which we all learnt) was the flute. the transverse flute, to be specific.

My whole childhood, I was adamantly against learning to play the piano, the traditional instrument of uptown little girls. Up into my teens, I continued to say no to my mother’s repeated exhortations to try learning an instrument.

Finally, in 6th form, at 16, after yet another sitting of the “I think you have the hands to play an instrument”, she asked, “if you could play any instrument, what instrument would you play?”. To which, I responded “the flute.”

Next thing I knew, I had a flute and private flute lessons with bandmaster, Major Joe Williams.

I played through the couple years, of 6th form, and continued while I was in Belgium on exchange (with a flute instructor that spoke no English). By time I got to UWI, I started up the steel pan when I joined the UWI Panoridim Steel Orchestra, thanks to a half-Trini friend. This instrument was acceptable to my parents who both loved it, lol.

Over the years, I picked my flute up every now and again, eventually going back for lessons from an acclaimed flautist, Sean Hird. But steel pan was everything. I rehearsed in the panyard 3-5 times a week every week. I had a pan at home which I played regularly. I played just about every performance the band had. Steel pan was my life.

Until now.

I actually stopped playing regularly with the steel band back in… 2013, I think. I do go back whenever they have special occasions, like a competition or concert. I last played with them in the concert of 2019, about 4 months B.B.L. (Before the Broken Leg).

So after half a lifetime of making music, my life was pretty quiet.

Along came the Alpha Community Band. They wanted brass and woodwind players. Could I really pick back up my flute after some 15ish years? I figured, why not? So I turned up to the Alpha School of Music (ASOM) in February of this year.

Alpha Community Band invite

The band is a mix of professional, amateur and hobbyist musicians, many of whom had not played in a while. But we gather weekly to learn and play. 10 weeks after starting we played a few pieces in the ASOM end of term concert. And again at the end of year concert.

And that time has come again. We perform in another week.

Flyer for Alpha School of Music Christmas Festival

I realize now just how much I had missed making music.

Even though, I am learning on the go. Even though, I am nowhere near as good as I would like to be. Even though, I make a mess of it on the nights I end up as the only flute.

I enjoy making music.

So I may take back up lessons. I may go back to steel pan. I may even take back up songwriting.

Because my life without music doesn’t feel right.

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2 responses to “Making music again”

  1. Emma Lewis Avatar

    That’s so lovely. I will share your concert flyer. I love the flute, not ever really sold on the steel pan although sometimes it can sound really good…
    Our son played the violin solidly from age five to fourteen, when he went away to boarding school and lost interest. He keeps saying he wants to play again – I keep encouraging him. I would love to play an instrument, it must give such satisfaction!

    1. Bianca Avatar

      Thanks Emma! You and steel pan sounds like me and violin, lol. Bu there’s an instrument out there for everyone, whether they play or not. I also think it’s never too late to learn 🙂

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