Our Village

2014 marks the 40th year I’ve made my living playing the clarinet. I’ve been lucky enough to have performed in front of symphony orchestras, played many years on New Orleans’ famous Bourbon Street, been a staff musician for the world’s largest theme park company for more than two decades, and I’m still clarinetting all over the country.

You’ve won auditions, gotten A’s on all your playing tests and juries, won scholarships, were judged “superior” in your solo endeavors, been a section leader, sat first chair and staved off any challenger that came your way.

Applause! We’re the chosen ones! Give us all the credit!

But, not really. We didn’t do it by ourselves.

To paraphrase a former First Lady, “It takes a village” for you and me to succeed.

“Hey, we practice long and hard, make every rehearsal! We listen, imitate, take private lessons!” you say.

But were it not for the sacrifice and support of those around us, we probably wouldn’t have these opportunities.

Think about the parents who pay for the instruments and the lessons and the reeds and the repairs, who help us make those odd-hour rehearsals and band camps and road trips, and who proudly show up for every performance we give.

Think, too, about our extended family and our friends who stick with us even if we fall short.

Remember the teachers who challenge and encourage us. And the other musicians who mentor us and trust us enough to rely on our performance to make theirs better. Or the boss who amends our work schedules to accommodate practices and shows.

Don’t forget the great performers who inspire us.

Then there are people whom we’ve never met who fill the seats in the concert hall or stadium—often tired after a long day at work—to hear us do our little music thing.

So as we enter the holiday season, maybe this is a good time to thank them and let them know how much we appreciate these chances for success that they give us. They’re really our “village.”

About the Author

Jim Snyder is a clarinetist from Orlando, Fla. Though primarily known as a jazz musician, his extensive career has put him in every musical place you’d expect to hear a clarinet—and in some you wouldn’t! Jim played for many years in New Orleans with trumpet virtuoso Al Hirt and is currently a staff musician at Walt Disney World. A Yamaha Performing Artist, he travels the United States as a soloist and clinician. Visit his website at www.theclarinetguy.com.

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