When I was 11 years old, I remember my mother asking me in to sit with her at the dinner table to look through a catalog filled with musical instruments. As she turned the pages she showed me all the different kinds of instruments I could choose to play in school. She told me of the wonder, beauty and power of music -- and not just with her words, for I could see it in her eyes. She is an accomplished musician, earning her bachelor's and master's degrees in music, as did my father, who is also a musician and well-known composer. Even now, at age 70, my mother plays professionally with a band of wonderful musicians. Her father played trombone with the great Sammy Kay Band and other big bands of the 1920s and 1930s.
I remember the stories my grandfather used to tell me about his musical adventures. One story I shall never forget is when he was asked to fill in for a musician with the circus that came to town.
During the performance, a clown came out holding a trick trombone. It had been cut and rigged so that the clown could pull a trigger, forcing a bouquet of paper flowers out of the bell. The clown ran around the center ring waving and pointing the trombone, but never playing it.
My grandfather had a great love for the trombone, even until the day he died. He could hardly restrain himself as he sat with the band watching this clown making a joke out of the instrument he so dearly loved and respected.
Finally, he could stand it no longer. Setting his own trombone down, he leaped over the barrier separating the band from the center ring and approached the clown with an outstretched hand. The clown stopped and turned to see this determined-looking man in a band uniform.
Thinking this was part of the act, the spotlight operators put all lights on the two figures in the center ring. Not knowing what else to do, the clown handed the trick trombone to my grandfather who tore out the paper flowers and lifted the horn to his lips.
My mother, who was a little girl of about 4 at the time, said she watched in amazement as her father began to play. The audience fell silent and the beautiful melody of "Sentimental Over You," a Tommy Dorsey classic, flowed from the lips of this master musician. When he was done, the audience erupted in applause. When my grandfather tried to give back the trombone, the clown bowed down and said, "No, you keep it. You earned it."
I am grateful for all those who love music and give of themselves to share it. Like my grandfather and his daughter, there are many in our community who are dedicated to the art. These include members of the Tonto Community Concert Association, fellow musicians, retired residents and teachers in our schools who are trying to nurture musical talents in our children.
There is something we can all do today to make an investment in the future of music right here in our community. There is an effort under way to purchase a new grand piano for the many events that take place in our high school auditorium. The story on page 1A shows how many of us benefit from the music that comes from this community facility. Please help in this effort. Send a donation, no matter how small, to: TCCA Piano Fund, P.O. Box 1711, Payson, AZ 85547.