Conducting The Orchestra

Or sing along with Mitch Miller . . .

I was conducting a Symphonic Orchestra the other day, and having a marvelous time. The reeds came in with a flick of my wrist and disappeared just as quickly when I nodded to the Strings to take Center Stage. Was unbelievably great, and as I turned to give my cue to the Percussions, I saw, right at my side, a man conducting with me.

Startled, and a bit abashed, but still without missing a beat, I gave him a happy nod and, together, we controlled those 45 or so instruments as if we were Leonard Bernstein, and a clone.

With four arms signaling those musicians, it was utter perfection, and just as the music was reaching its climax, the Red Light Traffic Signal changed and with shared grins, our hands went quickly to our steering wheels and we went our separate ways.

I often conduct music that way, but usually just tapping out the rhythm with my hands, and only occasionally add a flourish with my arms. And yes, I’ve sometimes noticed the next car driver give me a definite ‘what’s wrong with you” look, or at times one will smile and then swiftly take their eyes back to their car as if they had intruded upon me in some private moment.

But this time, it has been different, That man and I were listening to the same station, both enjoying the moment and it became a joyous rarity in life. One I remember with a smile and hope he does the same.

I think I was more active in my conducting actions than my friend’, but after all I grew up conducting music in a Mormon ward. First for the Primary, and then on to older groups. But even without such early training, there was nothing haphazard about my twin conductor’s body language, either.

Those shared moments were so good that I went my way thinking how odd it is that though we are so close to others on our streets, seldom do we look into the other driver’s eyes. In truth we avoid doing so, and if by chance, we do happen to lock eyes, we quickly glance away as if we had been caught intruding upon their private space.

Yet most of us are basically human beings and we just might like each other immensely if we met some other way.   But it’s as if it’s been drilled into us that it’s a no-no to have eye contact with other drivers. Who made that law, anyway???

Children aren’t so up-tight. Before they had to be strapped in for safety sake, kids would look out a back window and wave, smile or make faces at you, and if we waved or grinned back, they giggled, stuck out their tongues and darned if we didn’t drive away with a happy feeling. But again rules, yeah even safety rules have put a stop to that bit of hi-way fun and friendship

Just the same, it does still happen. And when it does, it’s so unusual that we remember and almost cherish it. I was at a red light and there was a man in the car aside mine eating a banana. I laughed as I caught him with it sticking straight out his mouth, and with a grin, banana still in his mouth, he reached to the seat next to him, picked up another banana and reached it out to me. Of course, there were windows and a hi-way strip between us, and then the Light changed and it was all over. But again it was definite human contact with unspoken but shared laughter and I felt happy and think he did, too.

Now, I don’t know why we feel embarrassed when we look into some other driver’s eyes, but we do . But take a chance one of these days. You, too, might share a conductor’s podium, with another or a banana, cup of coffee or perhaps just a smile. But if the Salt Lake symphonic orchestra is ever in a pinch for a guest conductor, I know of two who would step right in and do a bang up job of it also.  My opinion only, but I sorta like my opinion on guest Conductors, and so, let’s wait and see what next week brings to this space.  Bye.

5 thoughts on “Conducting The Orchestra

  1. Loved it — had me going for a minute when the strange man showed up – extremely well written. Hang in there dear friend.

    • Marie, thanx. Sometimes I wonder about where and how my mind works. I should be accustomed to it by now, but I’m not, so I just cross my fingers and let the crazy words see print. Love ya. me

  2. “.. extremely well written.”

    Wow I second that, Ethel you are as sharp as a tack.

    To any millennials or genX-ers out there going HUH?, that means Ethel is real smart and quick with wit and word.

    She has been rolling out weekly blogs (used to be called columns, when it was in the Green Sheet) for over fifty years. What a gift at her age (who am I kidding there are very few people her age) to be able to articulate and share such rare wisdom.

    Keep ’em coming dear!

    • I don’t remember you from the Ole Green Sheet days, but there were a lot of us down there. Good days. Well, tossing out a column (or blog) got to be a habit with me long ago. Purely automatic by now. Keep in touch and what did you do at the GS ? thanks, ethel

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