It has been several years since I last played an instrument after graduating high school. For me, music played a big role in my childhood because I learned how to the piano at a young age and played the Clarinet since 4th grade. While there are shows like Tari Tari and K-ON, which focuses on music that I can relate to, I have to admit that Hibike! Euphonium feels very nostalgic since concert band was one of my favorite aspects of grade school, which I will share.
First off, I should share my musical background. During my early childhood, around age of 6 years old, I started playing the piano. Although learning how to play a piano is difficult in comparison to any other instrument, this is where I learned how to read music. Of course, my teacher, whom is Russian, had high expectations in terms of me perfecting a song, although she is kind at the same time.
As the years progressed, I played tougher classical pieces with some requiring memorization for auditions in the higher levels. In addition, I have to memorize other things like cords, scales and arpeggios. While I usually do well on these with some effort since I have longer fingers, my younger sister had to practice a bit more. Still, while these piano auditions take a lot of work, I think it’s a worthwhile experience because you will earn recognition for your hard work.
As for other instruments, I initially played the violin in 3rd grade. Ultimately, I decided to play the clarinet since it’s easier to play. I have to admit that I had a pretty hard time playing it since the school hired a lousy band instructor, which is why I didn’t enjoy it that much. Furthermore, band practice would happen very early in the morning before school start, which felt somewhat like a hassle. It was not until middle school and especially high school when I started enjoying my time in concert band. In 10th grade, I upgraded to a clarinet that is made out of wood opposed to plastic and of course, they are not cheap.
So, what makes Hibike! Euphonium nostalgic to me considering my musical background? First off, I like the detail they put into the practice and lessons since it is very similar to what I experienced such as going to lessons (which is split off by sections), tuning, playing certain sections over again, etc. Since concert band is an elective at my school, I had to sign a slip that allowed me to get excused for a lesson, which goes by a schedule. The lessons of course consist of things you would expect such as learning how to play the instrument and perfecting certain sections of a song with a metronome, which is used to keep the tempo of a song.
Of course, practice is also important, an aspect that I neglected sometimes and get scolded on since I only practice 1 or 2 hours a week. Yep, I was pretty lazy back then. Still, I manage to pull through and give a good performance even if it could be better. This is also the same reason I didn’t advance past second chair clarinet because I did not put more effort to improve myself and try for the highest chair possible, which was difficult since there was a good amount of talented people who could play the clarinet better than me. At the same time, I wasn’t challenged by anyone either, which shows how laid back some of the students are like in the show, before Taki pushed them. Perhaps if I practiced a bit more, I would probably get to play the highest chair possible. Regardless of what part I paid, each part contributes to the overall song, even if some of the parts, especially for brass instruments can have monotonous parts consisting of mostly long notes.
Of course, my band teacher, especially the one from my high school has a similar teaching style as Taki since he strives to have a good sounding concert band and have us play some difficult pieces while being somewhat strict. It’s not surprising since the band instructor’s father was part of the US Army. His father was also a band instructor at a different school in New Jersey, which had a great marching band that won a lot of awards. I have to admit that it took a while for me to get used to him during 9th grade, especially for the fact that I didn’t know most of the students. When I got to know him more, especially in 10th grade onwards, he became one of my favorite teachers and of course, most of the students liked him.
While my sister participated in marching band since 9th grade, I joined in my senior year. During my last year, the marching band managed to get into top 10 and got silver after years of only getting bronze. Eventually, the school’s marching band managed to get top 5 if I’m not mistaken in my sister’s senior year before he left the school to teach at another. Of course, during my 11th grade, our concert band performed at Disney World as well, which I and my sister was a part of.
To me, Hibike! Euphonium in general gave me a lot of nostalgia during my time in concert band where I created a lot of memories. It’s not surprising since I have a good number of friends that also plays musical instruments. I am convinced that a good amount of members in the show decided to join for the same reason, even if it takes a lot of hard work and effort to perfect one’s part to in order to qualify nationals. As they say, no matter what language you speak, music is a universal language that anyone can understand. This is probably why most people don’t need to play a musical instrument or know how to read music to appreciate the amount of effort the characters put in order to reach their overall goal. Perhaps someday, I will pick up my clarinet or sit at a piano and play a song.
With that, what are your experiences with music during high school and do you relate with the characters or some of the aspects in this show? Feel free to share what musical instrument to play and your experiences in concert band. ¶