A lot has happened since that last post asked “What next?” – some of it foreseen, some of it unexpected.
I found somebody with a Chapman stick. It was FAR too heavy for me to cope with and was one of those rare occasions for me, when a new instrument totally baffled, pickled my brain and defeated me! I thought I would cope easily with 5ths and 4ths being a cellist and bass player – but they go in opposite directions from the middle outwards. Not for me, I’m afraid.
After all, I’m no slouch – come on, I picked up a Balalaika in a music shop and played the Elgar Cello concerto on it. But this was just beyond me.
So we had a think and came up with hammered dulcimers. Yes, nice pretty things and pretty sounds. So I bought one, had it for 3 months and only managed to get a few tunes out of it. My grandson, aged two, made nearly as much sense of it as I did. Who on earth worked out that layout for the notes? Weird!! “Am I losing my touch,” I thought? That mini-stroke I had in August just after I retired must have had more effect than I had realised. And I’m not a folk music player – it just wasn’t going to keep me involved in the music I love.
So I had a chat with the Roger, the principal percussionist and timpanist in Chandos Symphony Orchestra. I had helped out tinging a triangle and banging a bass drum once or twice but if I was going to that more often, I wanted to take it seriously rather than have people think that I believed I could just float into the section with no training. He kindly offered to show me a thing or two on the snare drum and glockenspiel.
Well, you know me! The bug bit and by the end of our first session I had bought one of each. By the end of our second session I had run out of notes on the glockenspiel as the range extends once you get to grade 4. So I decided to go for a xylophone and my parents (aged 91 and 92) stepped in and bought it for me. “Xue”, as I named her, (Chinese for study and learning) arrived on the 12th January 2016. It was love at first note. The familiarity of the layout and the quality of the sound… just wonderful!!
Two weeks later, we posted this on YouTube https://youtu.be/B7cvf-FHwWA
And on February 15th, I was able to play a Grade 8 piece “Schon Rosmarin” by Kreisler (I recorded the accompaniment and played along with it) for Roger to hear.
Job done! Happy now – I have an instrument to join in with an orchestra which doesn’t hurt my hands. Thanks Mum and Dad, thanks Roger, and thanks Stephen for putting up with The Flight of the Bumble Bee, which I’m working on now, over and over again.
P.S. I haven’t quite got to grade 8 with the snare drum yet, more like grade 3, but I’m working on it!