I started learning the clarinet at age eleven. I played all through high school,
and continued my music through college with the University of Texas Longhorn Band, a fantastic experience. Then I put the instrument in a closet, where it gathered dust for nearly thirty years.
In the late nineties, somehow I happened upon the Cupertino Symphonic Band, a local community band made up of middle-aged former band geeks like me. So I dusted off the ol' licorice stick, bought some new reeds, and started getting my lip back in shape. It was fun! Again!
Unfortunately, around the same time frame I started having stress and pain in my wrists and forearms. I was diagnosed with some form of repetitive strain nerve injury, supposedly from years of keyboarding at computers. For the uninitiated, playing clarinet is essentially vertical keyboarding, using the same fine muscles and irritating the same damaged nerves; so ultimately I had to give it up.
However, I wasn't going down without a fight. A flute player in our band had broken a finger once, and while she waited for it to heal, she temporaritly joined the percussion section, which was always woefully understaffed with only two people. I could do that, I thought. I can already read music, surely I can tap a triangle and such.
Fifteen years or so later, I'm still doing it. It's still fun! And now I'm not bad at it!
Playing mallets at the CSB Veterans Day Concert, November 2002: