Monday, July 18, 2011

My First Love Affair

Fifth grade was a year of changes. The most important change was this year marked my last year of elementary school.

We were the big kids on campus. We held our heads high, snickered at the crying kindergartners, scared second graders out of our way with our holier-than-thou looks, and dreamed of sixth grade and all that came with it . . . like lockers.

If you believe I was involved in any of that, you’re crazy.

Okay, well maybe I dreamed about the lockers. I was mostly concerned I’d never figure out how to open mine, but I was not the scary type. All fifty pounds of me—yes I was scrawny—couldn’t scare a spider.

All that aside, the biggest permanent life changing event happened to me in fifth grade. It was wonderful and unexpected. It was music.

Mom and Dad bought me a radio. It was plastic, cheap and the most beautiful fuchsia color I’d ever seen. It even had a tape player! I’d spend hours adjusting the long antenna, trying to find a suitable station to listen to.

Country stations were the easiest to pick up and the songs were the easiest to memorize. Yes, this girl-who-swears-off-country-music knows quite a few older songs. No, don’t ask me to sing them cause I won’t.

Every day I’d adjust the tuner, discover a new music and love it as much as I did the one before it. I tried to fall in love with a particular style, but found I fell in love with all styles. Grunge, classic rock, classical, country, Christian contemporary . . . it didn’t matter. As long as the music offered me some emotion to connect with, I liked it.

The little radio wasn’t the only way music added itself to my life that year. Mr. Beatty, the middle and high school’s band director, paid the fifth grade class a visit. He wanted to talk to those of us who might have been interested in joining the band. I was desperate to join, but also scared to death I’d be awful and wind up being made fun of.

Creativity won out over fear and I signed up. Ideas of being the world’s best clarinet player or flutist filled my head. Any notion I may not be picked to play either of those instruments didn’t exist.

And I wasn’t.

The Double French Horn was assigned to me and I was devastated. Arguing the director’s choice . . . not an option.

So I played the French Horn and I loved it. The sounds were clear, warm, soul touching. I connected with music in a way I’d never been able to before because I was creating it.

Much like my words, creation of music offered me release of built up emotions. The differences I experienced with the other kids, the poverty, the feeling like I’d never be accepted—all of them went right into my music.

I’d cart my French Horn to and from school, memorize the songs and practice, practice, practice. And I went on to play for seven years. Enjoyed many concerts, many solos even. Fear of being terrible disappeared.

My band director was always pushing me to do more, always telling me I was more. Always helping me heal in some way or another. I don’t play now, although I’d like to, but I still keep in contact with Mr. Beatty. Just last week he suggested I join a local orchestra. I laughed . . . all these years later he still believes in me.

The only difference now is I believe in me, too.


  1. And you are a great person to believe in. Just finished reading a post over @MoloneyKing and although different to this one, it echoes the same truth, that if we believe in ourselves, many, many things are possible. Thank god the world has people like Mr Beatty in it. They say a child only needs one person to believe in them, for things to turn out okay - and of course parents who buy fushia radios!!

  2. Loved that fuschia radio. ;-) Will have to go check out Michelle's blog. Mr. Beatty is a wonderful man. I'm not sure he'll ever know how much of a positive influence he was for me.

  3. Anonymous7/18/2011

    Great post, Krystal. I think I probably discovered music roughly around the same time. And it was through a tape recorder given as a birthday present too. Mine was grey though. I used to buy blank tapes and tape songs from the chart shows on the radio. It was the 80s version of bittorrenting! And they were against it then too. They used to have signs on albums that said "Home taping is killing music". Lol. Anyway, I digress. As Louise mentioned above, so great to read two life-affirming posts on a wet Monday morning.

    Now, as a way of deflecting all this earnestness, I just want to point out that "soul touching" sounds like something that could get you arrested in some States :-)

  4. I forgot all about doing that! I'd not only tape what was playing on the radio, I'd sing over it too. Ha. Loved music.

    And if music is not soul touching...what's the point? People say many things about music. Cops say it makes people drive aggressively, people say it makes them happy, tired, sad, helps with insomnia, blah blah. So let me ask you, is that not soul touching?

    ;-) 'Tis a philosophical question.

  5. Aw, this is fabulous! I played the flute in band (we were able to choose our own instruments) and doubt I could play a note now, but I chose band because it was either that or chorus and I am SO not singing in front of anyone! Well, now my poor kids have to listen, and if you want to know what they think, there's this: a couple of days ago my boy3 put his hands on his head and ran from the room yelling "My ears!" when I started singing. Yeah, band.

    Love how you're still in touch with your band director! Great story. ;c)

  6. Ahahahah. Tell me boy3 did not really do that. ;-)

  7. What a surprise I was expecting boys and hormones lol. Music never played a big part in my life but I can relate ur memories to other things in my life. I lacked a lot of confidence in school and my great love was enters Mr Wright, SWOON, Sean Connery look alike. He believed in me in so many ways, he pushed me in art, encouraged me with sports and made me gain some self worth. We too see each other occasionally and hes even better looking now lol. Men r so lucky. I'm degressing, the point being without him I would have been a little mouse at school but he encouraged me out of my shell.
    Thank u for reminding me off him, he still makes me smile and rekindled happy memories. Lovely post, really enjoyed it.

  8. Sean Connery look-alike, huh? Love him.

    You should try to reach out to your positive influence, I found mine on facebook. ;-)

  9. Fifth grade was such an influential year! And I was hooked (((blush))) to the top 40 countdown :-) Are you going to join the orchestra?!

  10. Unfortunately I don't have enough time. With three kids writing consumes most of my "free time". One day when I'm rich and famous, I'll quit my day job and take up the french horn again. ;-)


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