Sunday, March 13, 2011

Playing Music--it's Good for You

Last night, my band, Red Paint, played a party for a friend of our lead singer's friend. Free food and drink, interesting company, and an OK, if not inspired set.

We played between two sets by a tight blues band called Grease, Grit & Grime. They set up a fine background for the party, which featured beers on tap and a pig on a spit among other attractions.

Today, Sunday, I played my Spring concert with the Castro Valley Chamber Orchestra. It included beautiful music by Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky and Chopin. The Chopin Piano Concerto No. 1 featured Lois Brandwynne, a brilliant pianist. What a joy to play along with her.

All of my adult music playing began in 2003, when I picked up my electric Fender bass. It was reinforced by starting the upright bass in 2004. Finding bandmates was great, but to play in an orchestra you need help. I found my community orchestra through the Adult School, but there is another way to do it--the New Horizons International Music Association.

I learned about this group in the AARP Bulletin. If you're 50 or over, you can attend one of the sessions and start playing a new instrument--or resume playing the one you gave up after high school. There are about 7,000 members in 182 orchestras, bands and choruses in 41 states and overseas.

Groups meet once a week for an hour lesson followed by playing together for another hour. I have found my two-hour weekly orchestra rehearsals, with concerts every three months or so, to work out perfectly. However, with an orchestra you may need some experience to join, but with New Horizons, you can start whenever you're ready, at whatever level you're at.

It can make all the difference in your life. I know it has in mine.

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