Well before the official “instrument tryout” day, my mom sent my dad to look for my first flute. It was a used $50 pawn shop find, my ticket to beginner band class. During tryouts, my mom was told that I could not play the flute. They said that I had a tear drop upper lip, making clear sound virtually impossible. It didn’t matter as my mom stood her ground and insisted that regardless of what they said, I was playing the flute…so I did.
My start as a flautist was terrible as I was literally the worst or 2nd worst, consistently. It was hard being surrounded by so many amazing flute players, girls who took private lessons weekly, a luxury that we could not afford. I used to daydream that I was one of those girls in special classes. It just wasn’t possible.
Eventually, I got tired of being dead last and started practicing more. With this came improvement and in a years time I could finally play well enough to challenge for the top chairs.
As a 7th grader, I decided to try out for middle school honor band, a district and region wide endeavor, involving multiple school districts from the area. I have no idea why I decided to do this because unlike the other girls, I was not taking private lessons, almost necessary at this point.
This is where Mr. Guidry came in.
For those of us trying out for honor band that could not afford private lessons, our band directors worked longer hours to provide extra practice time and support. It’s odd that as I write this, the magnitude of such a sacrifice is finally understood. They literally sometimes worked 14-16 hour days for us.
One night, while practicing with Mr. Guidry, my $50 flute finally gave in. I was weeks always from tryouts without an instrument to play and in tears. I was stressed out and done!
Mr Guidry did the only thing that he could do. He loaned me his flute and continued our lesson. He also gave me a pretty tough talk about never giving up, commending how far I’d come in such a short time.
I don’t think that I made honor band that year but what I gained was so much more. With Mr. Guidry’s help, I improved so much that my parents decided to sacrifice and invest in a brand new flute, after consulting with Mr. Guidry, of course. (This $1300 sacrifice meant that I could not take drivers Ed. I was well aware but chose a flute over driving anyway)
He also helped my parents secure an affordable private tutor for me, one that would stay in my life, even to this day.
In a years time, I not only made the next honor band but went on to repeat this feat throughout high school.
Band is what paid for my first few years of college and I have Mr. Guidry to thank for that too. Had he not believed in me and invested his free time in not only my performance but so many others, perhaps I would not be where I am today.
Thank you Mr. Guidry for the tough love and dedication to hundreds of kids that you supported.
Thank you for believing in me even when I didn’t believe in myself.