Archive for June, 2014


I played in a school band/orchestra for nine years before hanging up my clarinet. And while I eventually made it to first chair, neither Benny Goodman nor Artie Shaw have anything to worry about; their reputations as masters of the clarinet are unsullied.

Artie Shaw

Artie Shaw

Unless you’ve ever played in a band or orchestra, your appreciation of the music is actually limited because the average listener largely hears the “whole,” not the “parts.” And by that I mean other than the occasional solo the listener cannot discern the individual pieces that go into making the whole musical piece.

I can remember when we were given the sheet music to a new piece and the conductor would have the different instruments play “their” part of the piece. Taken as is, what the clarinets played was only a small part of the piece. And the same went for the trumpets, flutes, trombones, saxophones, oboes, etc.

And what the third-part clarinets played was not what was played by the second clarinets, and what was played by the first clarinets.

So, where am I going? I’ll tell you. The orchestra is humanity and we are all playing an instrument. The parts we play and the notes on our piece of music are our own. And while we might not believe that the little part we play doesn’t matter, consider this.

Imagine an orchestra playing a magnificent score. And then listen to what happens when one-by-one of the players in a particular section of the orchestra stops playing. First it’s the third part clarinets, and then the second part trumpets, and so on. As each part drops out, the magnificent score becomes less magnificent, until a single player is playing. And then that player puts his/her instrument down…and the music dies.

We need to remember that the “part” we play in the human orchestra does matter. Once we begin to believe that the orchestra can get along without us, the sweetest sounds will be less sweet.

We all have a “part” to play. The notes in our lives only add to the sound the orchestra can make because the whole is only greater when the sum of the parts believe they make a difference.


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