One dreary fall day last year our oldest bounded into the house with a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye. Because such exuberance is rare, she had my attention. “So,” she exclaimed, “this super cool old dude came to school today, and well, I want to learn to play the oboe.” “What?” was all I could muster in response. Playing the oboe wasn’t exactly what I expected would float this pre-teen’s boat. Admittedly musically challenged, I immediately visualized her attempting to board a school bus sporting a music case bigger than she was. Fortunately, I had confused the oboe with a bassoon, and was significantly relieved to learn her sights were set on the smaller, sleeker instrument, with a much more manageable case. With that concern alleviated, we encouraged her to give it a go.
Before continuing, it’s important to note the moniker “old dude” was never intended with any disrespect. When you’re 12, anyone beyond the distant age of 40 fits that bill.
Shortly after our conversation, the oboe made its first trip home. We learned all about its unique double reed, and listened to practice that reminded us, rather wistfully, of the duck calls fashioned by the girls’ granddad back in Nebraska. The months passed and the dude kept showing up at SMS, volunteering his time and sharing his musical expertise. Soon the duckling noises were transformed into actual notes, far easier on the ear. Still, it wasn’t until late spring that we finally met the man so giving of his time and talent to the middle school. Rather rapidly, bits and pieces of the oboe puzzle started falling into place.
What a lovely story.