I first met Ericka back in 2008, when I was getting the Circle City Chamber Group off the ground. She was an associate at a law firm, and helped answer some questions. It didn't take long for our conversations to turn towards music, and how she missed playing her upright bass (at the time, she was "getting her fix" by gigging on the electric bass with a local rock group).
Since finishing her studies at Butler University, Ericka had been busy with work, marrying a great guy, and being Mom to an adorable little boy - like I said, busy. With all that, it's not surprising that making a regular orchestra rehearsal wasn't exactly making the Top 10 on her "To Do" list.
"I've missed this so much. #HappyHappyHappy
Rehearsed many things last night but particularly loved this beautiful second movement of Kalinnikov's Symphony No. 1 in G minor."
-Ericka's post-rehearsal Facebook post
This past summer, I created a small orchestra for local musicians and music teachers - the Indianapolis Music Teachers Orchestra. We got together every Sunday afternoon, just to play through music. Nothing too heavy, no long-term commitment. Just a chance for teachers to put down the lesson books and do what they love most - playing classical music with other passionate musicians.
Knowing how much Ericka loved to play, but also knowing how little time she had, I figured it would be a perfect fit for her passion and her time constraints. No matter what the week threw at her, all summer we could count on Ericka lugging in her upright bass (which stands about 4 inches taller than her).
And last night was no different!
Ericka is one of many examples of people who just won't let life get in the way of her love for music. In fact, her reaction to last night's rehearsal - her first with the CSO - was the best surprise I could've asked for, and only learned of it this morning, in an exchange of Facebook comments on her picture from rehearsal (above):
Frank (our friend and esteemed colleague/composer): Good to have you back amongst us of the bass clef
Ericka: Thanks!! :) Not going to lie, Frank, I definitely got teary and may have been almost dancing while playing. Haha Happy to be playing with a bigger group again.
Ericka shredding on her second musical love, the electric bass.
As a conductor and as a proponent for music-making at any and every level, how could I not be overwhelmed with pride and excitement for this reaction?! I'd be a fool not to consider this one of the highlights of the entire concert cycle. This is what it's all about!!
Just as every other non-music professional that walked into rehearsal last night, Ericka was there "for love of the game" (to borrow a Kevin Costner line). They do what they must - rearrange meetings, find babysitters, coordinate with spouses and family, etc. - to make sure they make it to rehearsal. The commitment is truly astounding when you think about it.
So, why am I talking about this? For you, the readers.
Too many times, I meet people who tell me how they used to play an instrument back in middle school or high school, but then quit because it was either "not cool" or they were teased by classmates. But every time I hear that, those same people tell me how they still regret having quit, and how they wish they could get back into it.
Guess what, folks. It's not too late!!
Find a local community orchestra, find out what they need, and get playing! Even if it means standing in the percussion section and wacking away at the triangle or cowbell.
Whatever, wherever, whenever... JUST PLAY!!!