Snowdrift Bassoon

Having played in the Saskatoon summer school concert orchestra, I had developed an interest in learning more about the bassoon. Turned out in Saskatchewan at that time, there weren’t many with such an interest. From what I was told, the only other bassoon player in the province at that time played in the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra.

My parents arranged for private lessons from Professor (later Doctor) David Kaplan, who had run the summer school concert orchestra. I went once a week, on Saturdays. Professor Kaplan gave lessons at the university. My family lived across from the university. Actually, across the experimental farm fields of the university, which were bordered by 14th Street East, where we lived.

People talk about levels of snow in the past, compared to the present. Maybe this year in the Maritimes, they talk more about the levels of snow in the present, compared to the past. What I do know is that the first driveway snowplow operation that I ever saw was in Saskatoon, in the early 1960s. The snowdrifts were, and remain, amazing to me. A car in a driveway buried in snow. The experimental farm fence across from us, roughly 5 feet (1.5 metres) high, completely covered with snowdrifts. So much so that a child could walk up and across the fence, all packed with snow.

I walked to my bassoon lesson. Very different times, in terms of parental safety expectations for ten year olds. After a particular blizzard, walking across the fence and into the experimental farm. Completely ignorant of how deep the snow was. Carrying the bassoon case. Getting stuck, over and over. Wondering if I would ever make it to the other side, which was roughly five city blocks.

Finally made it through, very late, cold, wet and frustrated. Went into ten year old tirade with Prof. Kaplan about how I couldn’t continue with bassoon like this. Implicitly blaming him for the circumstances, if not for the weather itself. A behaviour repeated in circumstances of later setbacks.

He said nothing. Bassoon lessons ended soon afterwards.

A few years later, saw Bobby Darin performing “Long Line Rider” with a bassoon player having a solo. Unforeseen cool. Can’t find the specific clip; maybe from his short-lived television show, shortly before his short life tragically ended, at the age of thirty seven.

A recent study provides evidence that self-control in children is perhaps a greater predictor of success in later life than intelligence or social class. The lack of self-control and related predictors become evident as early as three. I concur, in a sample of one.

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1 Response to Snowdrift Bassoon

  1. On February 8, 2013, Neil Remington Abramson commented as follows (e-mail correspondence reproduced with permission):

    We had similar experiences. I had to lug a French horn across those fields for lessons in that old University of Saskatchewan admin building Saturday mornings. And back.

    One time I remember being in a bit of blizzard and crawling under that little stair thing that went over that fence. It was a snow cave and a lot warmer. Then I remembered if you fell asleep you could freeze, though it seems to be alright for Inuit in igloos.

    My parents were not forthcoming about giving rides. These days, I wonder seeing the line ups of cars at schools at around 3 p.m. Are they afraid their darlings will dissolve in the rain? I used to walk voluntarily in winter from Evan Hardy Collegiate, down 14th, about 1.5 miles. My friend Gordon had to, and even though I had bus money, I walked with him, and got to keep the money for books and candies.

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