Thursday, 22 December 2011

Christmas Tunes: A Saxophone Experience

I have to admit that, as of recent, I've been growing rather weary of my public speaking club. 

Too much content, too much focussing on goals and rushing everything through has begun to take its toll on this basically quite laid back Pixie.

The main thing for me, however, has been the quick turn around: I'm in the office every Wednesday and it's a busy day for me.  When I finish it takes me nearly an hour to get home and eat and then straight back out to set up the room - so if the evening is equally frenetic (as it has been) I often find myself thinking about just staying home instead.

Last night, however, we went to visit our sister club - one that myself and Herself have been supporting for some time as they struggle towards becoming a fully fledged club of their own.  This one is even further away, so an even quicker turn around - but I had another reason for being slightly stressed on this occasion.

For those of you who don't already know I have been playing alto saxophone for nearly two years now and despite struggling with high notes (which have been to attract passing bats with their atonality), notes suddenly being called different things in the same piece of music (It's either c sharp or d flat - make your bloody mind up Mozart!) and rapid finger movements there have been some signs of improvement.

And so, with the festive season upon us, i decided to offer my services as saxophonist during the half-time break and had been practicing several christmas tunes to this effect.

Not being traditional these were not carols - but were:
 Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (one of my favourites),
Winter Wonderland (mostly quite easy until the very, very difficult bit)
Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow (another of my favourites and also from one of my favourite Christmas films (see point 1 at the end))
Santa Baby (quite difficult, but fun to try playing)

This was to be my second public appearance, not counting long suffering friends and family.  There had been some discussion about doing this at my own club, but for various reasons I never quite got around to organising it.

So we ate quickly, loaded up the car and drove up the quite heavily congested motorway, fully expecting for no one to be at the meeting - what with Christmas, seasonal illnesses and confirmed absenteeism.

We couldn't have been more wrong - we arrived to find a room full of first time visitors.  So now I was not only speaking at the evening (on the Science of Santa (see point 2 for a few of the fascinating facts)), not only was i organising the impromptu speaking session in the second half (on the theme of that Festive Favourite - The Sound Of Music (shown in the UK every alternate Christmas and Easter since 300BC) - but I was playing my saxophone not to a room of people who knew me and would forgive the odd terminal mistake (IE where i killed a note entirely), but to a room of total strangers.

So break came and due to the immense heat in the room my saxophone reed was completely dry and needed some effort to warm up before it would even make a sound.  Finally I launched into Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas and immediately went wrong.  Starting again I just about made it through with only a tiny error and received some polite applause from two of the guests.  Deciding not to risk life and limb any further than necessary I switched books and tried Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow - for which the timing of some of the notes can best be described as "imaginitive", but I think I got away with.

Deciding to quit whilst I was behind I packed up my saxophone and returned to my seat with no further recognition of my efforts - other than a brief conversation with another newcomer who, as it turns out, is currently learning the soprano sax. 

Still - any performance that you can walk away from with all limbs still intact is generally considered a success.  Only my parents to go now...

1) My favourite Christmas film - Die Hard (it's set at a Christmas party people!!)
2) Fascinating Facts about Santa:
Santa has approximately 378 million children (approx 3.5 per household) to visit - dependent on naughty/nice quotient

If Santa started delivering gifts at 10pm on Tonga and finished at 6am in the Samoa Islands he would have 36 hours to complete his journey due to the International Date Line - that's still 822.6 visits per second

Santa could potentially use Ion Shielding, as per Star Trek, to prevent his Reindeer from being vaporised by the immense pressure.  Dr Ruth Bamford of the Rutherford Appleton Laborotory in Oxfordshire has been quoted as saying:
“We now have actual measurements that show a ‘hole’ in the solar wind could be created in which a spacecraft could sit, affording some protection from ‘ion storms’, as they would call them on Star Trek.”


Mimi Foxmorton said...

That is very good to know about Santa's reindeer. ;)

Keep playing.....and have a wondrous season!


Argent said...

Well done for getting out there and performing anyway. I have not, as yet, subjected anybody to my playing apart from hubsm you and our Jedi master.

Nice to see the other clubs with new people coming in. I agree about the hectic content of our own club's meetings and am also a little weary of it.

Stephen Hayes said...

Congratulations on finding the courage to perform in front of strangers. I'd have perspired to the point of unconsciousness, left a giant pee stain and run from the room. You are obviously made of sterner stuff.

The Bug said...

I played the piano Christmas morning for my dad who leads singing at the nursing home on Sunday mornings. Well, for two of the carols I used both hands. For one I just used the one hand & then for the 4th one I didn't use ANY hands (it was in too high of a key for me to sing in - & being the only soprano I decided that we'd just go acapello on that one).

Anyway, I never was good at public performance - so good for you for getting out there. You'll never get comfortable with it unless you keep trying...