Listed in chronological order as I learned them.
1991 - Trombone
I first began learning trombone while attending Marengo Elementary School in South Pasadena, California. It was an excellent beginning music program - at the conclusion of the year, I was playing first chair in the elementary symphony that had 100 musicians with 6 trombones. That summer, we relocated to Northern California.
1992 - Baritone Horn, Alto Sax, Clarinet, Snare Drum, Flute, Piano, Guitar, Recorder
This was a strange time for me. We relocated from South Pasadena where introductions to music included a robust program and 5th grade was the last elementary grade level. By contrast, Anderson Valley had 6th grade as the last elementary grade level - so I inadvertently graduated from elementary school twice! The music program was not as robust and the songs we played vastly simpler. Worse, the music instructor did not teach trombone before 7th grade.
My parents enrolled me in piano lessons and I began self-teaching recorder.
At the elementary school, I learned every song the music teacher had on every instrument they had available. Although this meant the above list is very long, my skill on piano and recorder is what excelled the most.
1997 - Tuba, Sousaphone
The music program at AVHS suffered a lot of setbacks when I was in school. In a bid to keep it going, my Dad and several other concerned parents focused on securing volunteers to teach the program for a small stipend each year. This meant that while the program was ostensibly still going, we had a different instructor every year so no real long-term growth around music theory. It was more a smorgasboard of different songs each year.
In 1997, the band director for Mendocino HS, Bob Ayres, retired. He agreed to take on our school on a lighter basis. He was amazing. He brought our marching band back, added several ensembles, and had all students learning music theory too. He wanted a tuba player and had many of us trombone players so he asked if I’d like to play tuba. He got me a brand new 3/4 size Yamaha tuba to play - it still took a lot of air. I then learned to play sousaphone for the marching band too.
2001 - Djembe
In the second half of my time at UCSC, I did a multitude of extra-curricular activities. There was an afro-cuban drum class on campus which connected me with a West African drum class in town. I got to play accompanyment for a West African dance class from time to time which was an invigorating experience every time.
When I graduated from UCSC in 2002, I bought myself a nice Djembe from New Guinea along with a really nice carrying case.
Later while attending Humboldt State University in Arcata, I attended the West African Drumming classes they had for two years. I still remember all the patterns to play along with several specific songs. I definitely miss hand drumming.
2003 - Mandolin
While living with Turtle in Santa Cruz, I acquired a mandolin on the cheap and signed up for some private mandolin lessons. I recall learning more standard mandolin rhythm keeping but also fun stuff like Take 5 by Dave Brubek.
2004 - Dumbek and Drum Kit
While living in Santa Cruz and exploring the music scene, I met Rick Walker and ended up taking dumbek and drum kit lessons from him. It was sadly just at the end of my time there so I was only able to learn for a few months before I moved away in 2004. I still have my dumbek and still play it some and still have my drum kit skills although they are very rusty.
2010 - Great Highland Bagpipes
Sometime in the early 2000’s, my Grammy shipped me this practice chanter kit. When I moved to Texas, I found myself isolated without much musical opportunity. Then I found the Abilene Pipers and began the long road to learning to play the Great Highland Bagpipes. They helped me buy my own set used from someone in New Orleans and I made steady progress. It wasn’t until I moved to Seattle 2013 and joined the Washington Scottish Pipers that I began to take the instrument more seriously. Then around 2018, when my first kid was getting more interactive, I had trouble convincing myself to keep up the gigging and practice.
I later spent several months utilizing the Pipers Dojo in preparation to play for my Grandad’s funeral. It was during this time that I learned how to fully tune my instrument and began to really understand the presure requirements and how to play steady.
2019 - Ukelele
The Ukelele was always a fascinating instrument. Jon Marcille noted that he played it. As I continued to struggle to find time to play music with kids in the house and as traveling with a big guitar continued to be difficult, I bought a baritone ukelele and began learning it. I was pleasantly surprised to find it super easy to pick up - though I shouldn’t be that surprised having played guitar as a hobby since 1992.
2022 - More Drum Kit
I continue to play an eclectic mix of instruments. Whatever fits my fancy in the moment. I like to take my ukelele when traveling along with a recorder or two and a penny whistle. I like that I can play most of my bagpipe tunes on the recorders and the penny whistle. I’ve got two kids learning piano and recorder and one of them is working on drum kit with me.
We bought a kids size 5-piece Drum Kit in December 2021 and Edward and I are following along on Mike’s Lessons. I am excited to almost be able to do a consistent double-strike roll.