When I tell people I went to college to be a Music Major – they look at me like, “What the hell? How did you become a weatherman?” The answer is: God gives out the talents and he changed my direction. I grew up listening to the Big Bands on late night radio. “From the Blue Room high atop the Commodore Hotel in downtown Chicago, it’s the music of Stan Kenton and his Artistry in Rhythm Orchestra!”. I LOVED music then, and I still do. My mom bought me a tenor saxophone from Sears Roebuck. I wanted to be the best jazz musician in the country. I became a good sight-reader. If it was on the score, I could play it. When I went to college I played, of course, in the marching band (mostly because the band rode on the bus with the pretty majorettes and cheerleaders). I also played in the school classical orchestra and the big band.
I even had my own 7-piece group, pictured on my Facebook page. We were ahead of the curve; I had a female drummer (she only had a snare and top-hat cymbal) and a female piano player. We would play for anyone who had $70 bucks, 10 bucks apiece. We played VFW clubs, restaurants, beer joints, and wedding receptions. Anywhere. Ten bucks was good money.
We used what were called “head arrangements” of popular songs. That would usually be16 or 32 bars played in unison, and then each of us (except the drummer) played a solo while the rest backed up by playing chords. In the pix on Facebook the fellow on the top right playing tenor sax couldn’t read a note of music. I was playing alto sax. For him, I had to transpose from my e-flat alto to his b-flat tenor for the unison parts. And I only had to do it once – and he had it. But…when it came time for solos, he stood up, closed his eyes, and just wailed away, no clinkers, no clams, just beautiful music. As a gag, sometimes when he was playing the rest of us would get up and leave the stage or platform. We’d let him play alone about five minutes and then we’d rejoin him for the finish.
For me, when I had to play a solo, I had some chords scratched out on the chart and I struggled through trying to adlib it. After a long time, although it was a disappointment, I had to admit that I DID NOT have the God given talent to be a great musician. And I also realized that those who DO have it don’t know why – they just do. I continued to play sporadically but I changed my direction to what was then called, “The Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences” and I enjoyed studying the mysteries of the sky. That led to a satisfying career. I sold my saxophone to pay for my first child, and I have never picked up a horn since. (I do have a keyboard and I can play any tune I hear, but only with one hand! I’m not a piano player.) The moral of this story is this: It is NOT true that anyone can become President of the U.S. But it is true that God gives EVERYONE a talent at something. Sometimes He gives you more than one. So, find yours, embrace them, and get going!