Sunday, November 11, 2012

Maybe Something Is Stuck Inside

About six months ago, the music minister at our church gave me a saxophone. He wasn't even sure if it worked, but I was welcome to it, he said. I played the flute in high school and messed around on my brother's sax. All woodwind instruments have similar fingerings, making it possible to pick up an instrument you've never before played and squeak out a recognizable melody.

So I took home the instrument, put it together, blew with all my might, and . . .


Nothing but puffy cheeks and a light head.

The kids were crowded around me, expecting me to do something more than click the keys and blow. So I looked up a YouTube tutorial, followed the directions carefully, and tried it again.

This time I managed a loud honk, scaring the kids.

I put it away. Didn't touch it again.

The day after Christmas, my brother and his fiance came to visit. After visiting with them for awhile, I said, "Guess what I've got downstairs?"

"What?" my brother asked a bit nervously.

"A saxophone," I said.

He and his fiance exchanged a look. A charged look.

Turns out he deeply regrets pawning his saxophone shortly after high school. And they've looked for a new one - or more accurately, a used one - but found nothing within their budget.

"I'm not sure it works," I said, not wanting him to get his hopes up, explaining what had happened when I'd given it a try.

He put it together, clicked the keys a bit, checked the pads, making sure nothing was missing. Then he blew. With all his might.


He started talking about repair costs, significantly less than purchasing a new or used one, all the while, fiddling with the mouthpiece, reed, and bell.

Pippi looked at it and said, "Maybe something is stuck inside."

"Oh, I don't think so, Pippi," I said. Surely it couldn't be that simple.

"Maybe. Could be," my brother said. "I got something stuck in my sax once and it sounded . . . ." He took off the neck. Asked for a flashlight.

"It sounded sort of like it did just now," he continued, shining the light down the neck.

"There's something in there." He looked up at me, grinning, excited.

We used tweezers. A dowel rod. Whatever it was wasn't budging. Then I went and got this strange long wiry scrubber sort of thing that my mom had put in my stocking. "It's to clean your tea pot," she'd said. I laid it aside and forgot about it until we went hunting for something long and skinny and just the right width to shove down the neck.

It worked.

Out popped . . .

another mouthpiece, clanging down into the bell.

After my brother stopped laughing, and grinning (because it's very hard to hold your mouth just so when your mouth is spread wide in a goofy grin), he blew.

And out came the most beautiful, mellow sound.


I'm so glad my mom gave me that odd little scratcher brush.

I'm so glad I produced no more than a squawk the day that I tried and tried. Because if I had, I would have practiced. And practiced. Until it started to sound good. And it would have been much harder to just give it away.

And I'm so glad that my brother is the sort of person who really listens to kids. Really listens.

Because sometimes I forget how good my kids are at problem solving. That most of what they say is valid, and worthy of my complete attention. But being with my kids all the time, hearing them talk so much, I'm guilty of sometimes . . . tuning them out. Disregarding what they have to say before they even speak.

But not my brother. He has infinite patience.

When Pippi was two and a half and Tommy was a babe in the sling, my brother visited. And I remember them sitting together at her desk. Sharpening pencils. For an hour. He didn't squirm. Didn't glance at the clock. Get up for water. Go to the bathroom. Nothing to indicate that he wasn't completely captivated by their task. That hour that he spent at the pencil sharpener with her was important. There was worth in what she was doing at that moment. Not once did he say, "Well, maybe this should be the last pencil," or "Let's do something else." He just sat there with her, patient, attentive.

I'm so glad I was able to give my brother just the right gift for Christmas. Because he gave me a gift of great value.

He reminded me of how important it is to really listen to my kids.

Because had it been me, I would not have asked for a flashlight, wouldn't have looked down the neck.

I would have brought it to the sage repair man.

And paid a whopping Benjamin or two.

For him to tell me that indeed,

"Something is stuck inside."

No comments:

Post a Comment