Go back in time to an event you think could have played out differently for you. Let alternative history have it’s moment: tell us what could, would or should have happened?
Well, I’m sure there are a lot of moments that I wish would have played out differently. But, the key word in the prompt is ‘could’.
It was fall of 1978. The sequence of events is still so vivid in my head that it makes me cringe.
I was performing in a percussion ensemble. One of the pieces that we were doing was called Encore in Jazz by Vic Firth..I was playing the marimba part. We had practiced that piece so much and I had it down.
The first couple of pieces that we did went fine. No major flaws. Then we did a piece called Sixty-Five Years From Tomorrow by Elias Sheldon. I was on marimba. I spent the entire piece one measure ahead of everyone else. There were a lot of chord rolls over multiple measures, so it really wasn’t that noticeable.
After that piece we left the stage for intermission. I hung around outside and smoked a few cigarettes.
Intermission was over. Time to go back in and finish our part of the show/recital. The piece we were doing after the intermission was Encore in Jazz. My part was basically an E flat blues scale. How simple is that. As we were about to go back on stage, Gilbert, the conductor, asked me where my music was. All I had in my hands were my marimba mallets.
I don’t need it. I have this shit memorized.
“You still need your music”, he told me. “Go get it”.
I was a rebellious 20 year old who knew everything.
It’s down the hall in my locker. Besides, I don’t need it.
He was pissed.
We went on stage and took our places. It was a packed audience. Jack started his little drum solo and we were off.
Then, the strangest thing happened. My mind went totally blank. I didn’t remember a single note I was supposed to play.
My part was coming up in about 4 measures and all I had in front of me was an empty music stand. I panicked. I forgot what key it was in. The only thing I remembered was the rhythmic structure.
I didn’t even play my first measure. I was supposed to play in unison with Judy, who was on vibes.
I finally joined in. Randomly hitting notes on – of all things – the pentatonic scale. I hit a lot of F#s, I remember that. It sounded so bad. I did not want to look at Gilbert. When I finally did, he was glaring at me so hard; like he was trying to make my head explode. The whole piece was utter chaos.
After it was over we bowed and exited the stage. Judy was like, “What happened?”
I just spaced out. Leave me alone.
Then here comes Gilbert. He didn’t say anything. He just glared at me and stormed off.
All of the woulds, coulds, and shoulds come down to one thing; me taking my music with me. Oh yeah, and me not being a bratty little know-it-all. That’s how it SHOULD have played out.
The one thing I’ll never forget about the whole experience is Jack saying, “Don’t even worry about it. You won’t even remember this in 10 years” I hate when people say that. You know why? Because they’re big, fat liars. You will remember it 10 years from now. I’ll even remember it sixty-five years from tomorrow.
Categories: Daily Prompt