Our family has what you might very generously call a range of musical abilities. I started playing the flute in my school band in 6th grade. My instrument of choice was the drums, but my parents had forbid it, citing something about wanting to keep their sanity and hearing. In retrospect, I'm not sure the flute ended up fitting their criteria as I regularly hit notes that would make our pudgy daschund howl.
It was a slow start, but the band played five days a week and once we figured out how to hold our instruments properly and (mostly) make the desired noise, we made quick progress. In no time, we were playing actual songs. I loved feeling like I was part of something bigger that sounded so much better than any one of us did alone. (Though I'm sure I pictured myself as being as talented as "Ron Burgundy").
Since I don't have a picture, you'll just have to imagine the most gnarly, wicked, totally tubular uniform any junior high kid could've dreamt up in the 1980's. Following fashion cues of any one of the epic icons of the day such as Princess Diana, Brooke Shields, or Tom Selleck's alter ego Magnum PI would have been too conventional.
After playing for four years, I dropped band in high school because it conflicted with the ability to fit in all the classes I needed for college eligibility. Or at least that's the official version I tell people. Honestly, I probably would've figured out a way to make it work if the new uniforms weren't so ugly. They were the traditional, unflattering, wooly brass-buttoned, high hat monstrosities. I loved band, but clearly not enough to overcome my shallowness.
My husband played the cello. I can't tell you how much this impresses me. It's such a formidable instrument. For one thing, there's the sheer size. (My flute case was so small that I could spin it around like a seasoned gun slinger.) And then there are all those strings and a bow. It's all very mysterious. And really sexy. He can even play by ear, entertaining us all with the opening notes to Jaws or the "chorus" to Indiana Jones. And, unlike the flute where there were 10-12 of us fluting out our tunes at any given performance, he was usually the only cello in his orchestra. No pressure there.
Our oldest musical "prodigy" played the clarinet very casually for about a year in elementary school. Another took some piano lessons which she hated, but then later taught herself to play a few tunes on the keyboard. And our youngest currently plays the clarinet (with gusto) in her junior high band. (They just got back from a very cool band trip to Disney.) Our son, on the other hand, served the mandatory minimum sentence of 6 weeks of recorder in 6th grade and was the Milli Vanilli of elementary school choir, lip syncing his way through every concert.
On very rare occasions - last Christmas for instance -- we gathered some music that we could all play. It was a nice rendition of Eidelweiss from Sound of Music. After a lengthy, noisy, trash-talk filled warm-up, we were able to string together about 12 bars of the song before things fell apart. Let's just say nobody's going to be trying to sign us for a record contract any time soon. Yet it stirred our desire to return to the Strawberry Music Festival. Come join us, we'll be at our camp under the name, "Von Crapp Family".