“That sucked,” I said to myself as I walked out of the auditorium. For the first time in over nine years, I played in a symphony band, and I haven’t played tuba seriously in almost thirteen years. And I’ve never played a CC tuba with five valves. All my previous experience is with BB♭ tubas with three or four valves. Rusty doesn’t quite cover it. I’m out of my element and in over my head.

A lot of the people in that group are way better than I am. I’m scared I won’t be good enough, that I won’t learn the music fast enough, or that my fingers won’t be dexterous enough to make some of the precise changes. But this is a more interesting fear than being afraid of trying in the first place. And it’s certainly more interesting than comfortably watching American Idol.

So, today, I practiced. I wrote fingerings in under the notes I couldn’t readily recognize. I marked where I’d breathe and the D♭s I kept missing. I played the opening eight bars of this damned Sousa march over and over. I counted out complicated rhythms while beating my hand against my leg to keep time.

I did all of this because it is something I can do today. And rehearsal is Monday whether I’m ready or not. And that’s terrifying.