by Suzanne Southall
As well as being a fan of travel, I’m also a fan of music and playing instruments, so when I came across World Music Travel Blog I knew I had to write a guest post for it! I thought I would write a bit about my experiences of joining a band in a different country. It’s an experience I’ll never forget and I encourage others to do the same if they can!
How it all began
It all started in September 2007. I’d just graduated from university and decided to move to Frankfurt to teach English. One day I was chatting to the music teacher in the staffroom and he mentioned that the school had a band. He asked me if I played an instrument. Not thinking anything of it, I told him I played the euphonium. His face lit up and he asked me if I would be willing to join the school band to help out one of the euphonium players who was having a bit of trouble with the notes. I agreed although I found it a bit strange with all the kids being 12/13 years old and me being in my early twenties, but if the girl needed help then I would rise to the occasion!
Being in the school band was a lot of fun. At first the pupils were wary of me because they knew I was a teacher, but after a few rehearsals they warmed to be and treated me as one of their own. I found it quite hard to get used to the fact that Germans use H for B♮ and B for B♭, which made it quite embarrassing when the girl I was helping asked me the fingering for a certain note and it took me a while to work it out.
Playing in a German Christmas market
When the Christmas music started to come out of the music collection I asked the conductor whether we’d be having a concert soon and he said we’d actually be playing at a Christmas market! I guessed I would be leaving the pupils to it, but the conductor insisted that I play in the concert too as I’d been at all the rehearsals!
I felt quite touched that I’d been asked as I had always marvelled at the Christmas market bands and thought how cool it would be to play in one, adding to the seasonal atmosphere as people mill about looking at all the stalls.
When the time came all the pupils were really excited and so was I! We had a little practice first then went up on stage. I probably looked a bit out of place being about a foot taller than the kids, but seeing as the Euphoniums stand at the back I didn’t stick out too much (good job I don’t play the flute!).
The pupils’ parents stood round and watched as we played our pieces and then took a bow. We were even invited to play at another Christmas market a week later so we must have done something right.
The band bug
After this I got the band bug and decided to join another one. This time the people were slightly older. I would guess 14-50. They didn’t need a euphonium player so I brought my alto saxophone over from England and played that instead. I played in two concerts with this band and continued to rehearse with them until I left Frankfurt ten months after I’d arrived.
Just do it!
If there’s anyone else umming and ahhing about whether to join a band or orchestra when they arrive in a new country I say just go for it! It might be scary at first with things being in a different language and even the euphonium I borrowed was a different shape than I was used to! You’ll quickly get used to everything and it’s a great way to make friends and feel more at home in the new country.
This has been a guest post by Suzanne Southall, blogger extraordinaire who contributes to the hungryhouse blog from the UK’s leading online takeaway platform that features restaurants across the country including Birmingham, Nottingham and Manchester.