Yesterday I played the drum in a performance of Leopold Mozart's Toy Symphony. It was a wonderful experience. I was volunteered for the position at the dress rehearsal when the trumpet player mentioned that he could not play trumpet and drum at the same time in the last movement.
I didn't know how to hold the sticks, or really what to do. I got to go on stage without holding an instrument (the drum sticks were with the drum), and I didn't get a chance to practice for either of the two performances. It was an exercise in luck for me, and it was a good one. Usually I play concerts, even orchestra concerts, knowing every note of my part intimately, and knowing how my instrument will respond to every note. All of a sudden I was at sea, and I knew that I had to swim. Thank goodness the part wasn't difficult.
I counted like crazy, and stood at attention during the movements I wasn't playing (I always wondered how percussionists did that so convincingly), and at the second concert I was proud of the way I played. My career as a percussionist in a professional chamber orchestra has ended, and I am very grateful for having had the experience.
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