Defined by the Saxophone

I was in third grade and was more than rarin' to go and start playing the saxophone.My parents were well aware of this, and so right around Chanukah of 1956, they alerted my grandparents as to  the perfect gift for me.

That gift was a saxophone, well, not a real saxophone, a toy saxophone. The company that made them was called  Emenee. They made a number of fake wind instruments like trumpets and clarinets.. They all sounded like cheap harmonicas. So I just unwrapped my gift and played away. It had levers for keys and I ‘mastered’ the instrument right away. I just had to use my imagination and I was sort of playing the saxophone.But soon I was bored of the thing.

I had to wait another year, until  fourth grade when kids were allowed to choose their musical instrument for the school band.The day before our first band class my mother and a I went to the music store to get the saxophone. As soon as we got home, my mom and I somehow figured out how to put it together, reed and all. I spent much of the remainder of that day exploring the instrument and discovering a number of pitches.

The next day was our first band class and the Mr. Perrel, the music teacher spent the beginning of class examining each kids instrument. When he got to me, he stared at my instrument and said “You have a C melody sax there. They haven’t played those old things in years.You need to exchange it for an Eb alto sax.” I found that very disturbing. Since the school year had already started, what it they ran out of saxophones at the music store?

The next day we went back to the music store and the clerk was able to dig out an old clunker of an alto saxophone. It was very tarnished and smelly and they keys clanked when I played it.

But it was good enough for me. So, I was on my way…

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