A couple of months ago, I tagged along with my Taiwan Family to a practice session for the Taichung City Youth Orchestra that they lead. There was a casual suggestion: "Hey, why don't you jump in with the percussionist. It'll be fun."
When it was discovered I have no natural aptitude for playing jazz lines on a ride cymbal, I was relocated to Triangle. Over the next few Saturdays, I learned that you can, indeed, play the Triangle incorrectly. I sweat at the thought of my solo every time it was ushered in by the 20 woodwind students sitting in front of me - most half my age.
We're not even going to discuss the Tambourine.
I did enjoy the bass drum, though. And stumbled along, attempting to recall everything I learned about reading sheet music in my 5th grade piano class, and apply it to these amelodic lines.
At some point around Christmas, I was asked, "So, what do you think? Are you having fun?"
"Yeah, it's great," I replied, without much thought.
"How do you feel about your parts?"
"Well, I mean, I'm getting there, I guess. Why?"
"Good. The performance is next month."
Friday night was the culmination of all my hard work, and insufficient practice. In front of nearly a thousand people - in one of the most prestigious music halls in Taichung - I became a professional musician.
I say professional musician not because I was paid. I certainly wasn't. That takes a much different set of qualifications. I say professional because I was told that professionals make a lot of mistakes, but they just know how to hide it and keep going like they meant to play what they did.
Where does my promise of Pirates come in? [One reader guessed it] As our closing piece, we played the "Melodic Highlights" of the Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End soundtrack. It was nearly fantastic.
We also covered a few Disney tunes you would expect from a Youth Orchestra, and a couple classics.
One such classic provided a special treat. Flown in from the night before, an Orange County, California based Ballerina performed a Waltz to the Blue Danube.
This Ballerina choreographed the entire pieces (or at least the parts she danced) by herself this week...
This was because the decision to include her in the Evening's performance was so last minute she didn't even make it into the Program. (The host joked with the audience that they met on their mutual flight from LA to Taiwan)
This wasn't true, but...
...This Ballerina also happens to be my little sister.
For the next week and a half, she'll be staying with me to celebrate Chinese New Year. I will be enjoying her company as we tour the city and the island; making her try only the best foods I can find...
...constantly teasing her, kicking the bottom of her feet as she walks and any other number of activities that I consider my God-Given First Born Birthrights. Gotta make up for lost time, ya know?
This all will surely keep me occupied, and I might neglect the blog a bit. But I'll be back soon enough. Also, in typical Taiwanese fashion, I've told her (rather than asked her, and with as little forewarning as possible) she'll be guest posting a recap of her time. Look forward to that next week.
Tonight is the Lunar ("Chinese") New Year, so this place is a hubbub of activity. I'm looking forward to a good meal, and will probably come back from this week with more stories and plenty of pictures. But for now, Happy New Year!