I started playing the flute the summer before I was in fifth grade. Back then, Mr. Benson, our band teacher, had what was known as "summer band". I'm not sure how long we were in "summer band" in the summer, but I do remember walking with my friend Tina, who played alto saxophone, and I played flute, and I was glad I only had to carry a flute.
I was 9 or 10 when I started playing the flute. I imagine I picked the flute, because that is what my older sister Christy played. I guess the baritone, the instrument my older brother Bill played, didn't appeal to me as much.
When I entered fifth grade, we had "band" once a week with Mr. Benson. He would travel to all the elementary schools and we would meet for about half an hour and learn songs. The same happened in sixth grade. One thing I remember about being in the sixth grade band was playing in the annual Christmas program put on by the sixth graders. I played my flute offstage, during one particular part of the program that told the story of "Greensleeves", and I was the flute player for that. And, if I remember correctly, I got to direct the band in sixth grade during the Christmas program. And I did it in a red gingham maxi dress.
As I entered school at Kellogg Junior High School, I continued begin in band. I was in A Band, I think they called it. That means you played in elementary school. B Band was for those students who started playing their instrument in junior high. So in junior high, I was in band with 7th graders, 8th graders and 9th graders. Mr. Benson continued to be my band teacher all through junior high.
Now there is a term called "Band Geek" that refers to those students who play in band. I'm not sure in junior high, we were band geeks. Most of the people who played in band in junior high were pretty cool. And we had a huge band. We all loved being a part of the band.
I still remember being in 9th grade, and learning how to play the piccolo. Marian Russell and I always vied to get first chair in the flute section. Spring of our 9th grade year was very memorable, because we had two piccolos in our band, and we each got to play one when we played "Stars and Stripes Forever". It was a very difficult part to play on the piccolo, but we both learned it and played it very well.
As I moved into high school, I continued to be in band. Usually I was one of the top flute players in the band. But gone were the days of Mr. Benson. We had a new band teacher my sophomore year at Kellogg High School, that was there all three years I was in high school, Al Taylor. He was a good trumpet player, but I'm not sure he was the best teacher. But I enjoyed band in high school. I remember making it to the state boys basketball tournament my junior year, and getting to direct the band at the state tournament. That was pretty cool.
I have many fond memories of band in high school, whether I was a band geek or not. All three of my girls stared out playing in band, but Coco is the only one who has stuck with it all through high school. And she is following in her mother's footsteps of being a part of the University of Idaho Marching Band next fall.
We may have been "Band Geeks", but there is also a certain coolness to being a band geek.
I will always be proud of being a member of the Kellogg band program.
And here I am, over 40 years from the time I started playing the flute, still playing it at church, or at home at Christmas, or at an occasional funeral. I love making music on my flute.
I'm glad I have stayed with it after all these years.