Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tuba and a Latte To Go

OMG, my teen daughter has decided to take up the tuba! She is in a band class at Stuyvesant, her new high school, and trumpets being a dime a dozen, she and five boys have volunteered to be the tuba section.
"Do they teach you to play?" I ask, trying to imagine the first rehearsal.
Shrug of the shoulders.

Cup of the Day #36
Black and white cup by Gwyneth Leech, 2010
Sumi ink and white-out pen on white and brown cup

We are walking across midtown on Saturday to buy her a mouthpiece. 48th Street right off Broadway is still the home of instrument stores: Sam Ash, Manny's, Rudy's Music Stop, 48th St. Custom Guitars chief among them. But we turn into the first open door - New York Woodwind and Brass Music Corp. A smooth trumpet sound greets us; a client is trying out a new instrument in the cramped aisle. A man called Bill leans relaxed at the counter, ready to answer our questions to the backdrop of the trumpet riffs. He has everything we could possibly want in tuba mouthpieces. I ruefully hand over $43 and Megan drops the hefty piece of metal into her purse.

While looking into the glass cases, flutes catch my eye, shining silver against the blue velvet linings of their black boxes. I used to play the flute, a lot - first there were years of lessons, then in marching bands with my dad (he on trombone), in community orchestras around Philadelphia, in the pit for shows at the University of Pennsylvania, even in Edinburgh community orchestras when I first moved to Scotland to study art.

Then I gave it up for singing and painting. But the instrument is still under my bed at home, pads and joints leaking after years of inattention. On an impulse I decide to go home and get it and bring it back for an overhaul. I am going to play again!

When I return to the store the trumpeter is gone, but behind the counter Bill is noodling sweetly on the sax. He pauses long enough to take my flute and give me a repair ticket.

I am feeling a little overcome by my two walks across Midtown and decide I need a latte to restore me. But where to go between here and home for an interesting cuppa?
47th and Broadway - Starbucks. No thanks
47th and 8th - Starbucks. Nope
49th and 8th - Starbucks, x two. No thanks, neither
47th and 9th - Starbucks. No!
OK, this is ridiculous.

Finally I detour to Nook on 9th and 50th. It is really a sit-down cafe, brunch underway. But they are sympathetic to my need. Phoenix coffee, latte foam just right. I take out, go sit in the Clinton Community Garden on 48th and listen to the fluting of birds while sipping my coffee and planning my instrumental come-back.

So, are there any duets out there for flute and tuba?


  1. Nice post. Personnaly I have a trumpet in the attic 30 odd years on from school, comes out now and again but never enough to get my lip back - go for it and stick with it!

  2. My dad played trombone in the army, WWII - marching band, dance band, big band stuff with a bunch of players from the Houston Symphony orchestra - an indelible experience.
    Then when he was discharged he left the instrument behind and went to law school.

    About 20 years later, when I was a kid, and he was a law professor, he went out and bought a new trombone. It was his pride and joy. He played with great skill in volunteer bands and orchestras around Philadelphia for decades.

    So it is never too late to start again!

  3. Nice post and Thanks too for passing by so many SBs ; )

    Sent an email = Thanks!


  4. Love the story and the excitement of a new instrument. Good luck with the embouchure!! Oh, love that cup, too!

  5. The words "Tuba" and "Latte" together in the same sentence caught my eye. Here, when you talk about "Tuba", you are talking about an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting coconut milk. Never been brave enough to try it (even if I did drink alcohol), but I hear it's got a kick. I was imagining a latte with this tuba added to it... might make an interesting combination...