Playing Clarinet in your High School Marching band wasn't such a bad idea after all.

It’s November 1971 – You’re A Teenager – You’re In L.A. – You Play Clarinet – You Don’t Know Why . . .Until Today.

Playing Clarinet in your High School Marching band wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

You remember – 6th grade and your teacher asked the class who wanted to play a musical instrument. You thought about it for a minute and before you could open your mouth you were handed a Clarinet. Not your first choice – not your last. The School got a Music teacher and they were recruiting kids to play in the orchestra and learn an instrument. They were handing out violins and saxophones and drumsticks and you got the Clarinet – it was the only instrument left. Nobody wanted to trade with you. You were stuck. You stared at the little black case and asked yourself why.

Your dad was thrilled – he liked Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw. They were famous Clarinet players. You didn’t know a single Rock Band with a Clarinet player. You hated the Clarinet. It squeaked when you hit a wrong note and you were squeaking a lot. And even when you did hit the right note it sounded weird. You just weren’t a fan. You envisioned your life playing Weddings and Bar Mitzvahs and that didn’t appeal. But it made your dad happy which meant something extra under the Christmas tree or a boost in your allowance or help with that MG Roadster you’ve been eyeing since 10th grade. You gotta do what you gotta do and life is a series of trade-offs.

So you learned to play and you practiced and you wound up in the orchestra where you routinely mangled Classical music on a large scale every week. By the time you got to High School you made the realization you could play other instruments, and the idea of being a killer sax player had lots of appeal.

So when the call came for Marching Band recruits you grabbed the opportunity convinced that, if Jimi Hendrix could play in his High School Marching Band, so could you.

But then you were informed the only instrument they really needed was Clarinet. Your enthusiasm fell down several flights of stairs – the bright side was it meant class credits, travel and an easy A. The downside was the uniform which left a lot to be desired – baggy everything, shoes that went out of their way to be uncomfortable and you being reduced to a puddle of sweat whenever the temperature rose above 60 degrees. Suffering for art had its limits.

However . . .

Your first day of practice you made an important discovery – a life-changing discovery – a discovery that aligned all the planets and made you realize all those years ago you made the right choice.

Because when you grabbed your music and wandered over to your section you quickly realized you were the only guy playing Clarinet – all the rest were girls. They smiled – a couple giggled – a few rolled their eyes – one or two handed you smoldering thousand yard stares – instantly your brain became scrambled with possibilities. And your Clarinet became the best thing you ever learned.

And there was always KPPC to latch on to. Here’s an hour’s worth of free-form radio from Bob Taylor on November 16, 1971 to wrap your ears around.

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