Nugget Challenge - hanging with the band

  • The sounds of the sax were a little less melodic when Nugget sportswriter Greg Finan, Jr. took part in the Fast Start Clinic Band Camp at LCMS last Saturday. Pictured (left to right): Instructors Jenna Crawford and Chasen Wood and camp participant Bethany Dix try to avoid the noise produced by Nugget sportswriter Greg Finan, Jr. playing the alto sax.
    The sounds of the sax were a little less melodic when Nugget sportswriter Greg Finan, Jr. took part in the Fast Start Clinic Band Camp at LCMS last Saturday. Pictured (left to right): Instructors Jenna Crawford and Chasen Wood and camp participant Bethany Dix try to avoid the noise produced by Nugget sportswriter Greg Finan, Jr. playing the alto sax.
Body

For some reason, there is no level of embarrassment too great that can keep me from continuing to accept challenges from the students of Lumpkin County.
And, believe me, I have endured my fair share of embarrassing moments throughout my Nugget Challenge adventures.
This past Saturday was no different as I went to LCMS to participate in a Fast Start Clinic Band Camp with a group of Lumpkin County sixth graders. The challenge had come in the form of a Twitter message from LCMS sixth and seventh grade band teacher Paul Anderson.
“Hey, you up for another Nugget Challenge?,” read the message Anderson sent. “On Saturday, August 17, the LCMS band is having their Fast Start Clinic where sixth graders first learn to make a sound on their instruments. Want to join us? You can pick your instrument.”
The message came as I was beginning to plan and hype up my Pass, Punt, Kick Nugget Challenge against Tucker Kirk, Aaron Hopkins and Trey Wilkes during Meet the Indians Night.
At first, I tried to ignore it.
“I’m too busy with school starting back up and with this Meet the Indians Night challenge,” I told myself as I continued to try and ignore the challenge set forth by Anderson.
But, a half hour after I received the challenge, I knew that I was going to do everything in my power to make it happen. I hadn’t backed down from a challenge before, and I wasn’t about to start now.
So, I wrote back to Anderson and graciously accepted his challenge.
“So, even though I’ve never played an instrument in my life, I will gladly accept your challenge,” I wrote back to Anderson.
And, that is how I became the oldest participant in the LCMS Fast Start Clinic this past Saturday.
I felt much like I did on my first day of school as I approached the double doors leading into the middle school.
I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t know what I was doing and it all made me a bit anxious.
As I walked into the cafeteria area, Anderson greeted me with a smile and handed me a case with an alto sax inside.
“Here’s your instrument,” Anderson said. “Have fun.”
I took a seat next to some Band of Gold members that I knew and tried to get a gauge on exactly what would be happening during the clinic.
I was assured that many of the participants had never even attempted to play an instrument before and that I’d be okay. The pep talk was nice and calmed some of my fears.
The large group that had assembled in the cafeteria was then broken up into smaller groups based on which instrument you’d be learning. I grabbed my alto sax and headed off for my classroom.
Luckily, my instructor for the class was Chasen Wood. I have known Wood for a few years now, as she is not just the alto sax section leader for the Band of Gold but is also quite the speedster for the LCHS track and field team. Helping Wood teach the class was Band of Gold member Jenna Crawford.
The two seemed to be naturals at the teaching game and shortly after getting into the class we were all making sounds with our instruments, even if those sounds were the most pleasing.
We quickly went through learning to play the A,B,C,D and G chords on the alto sax. It was just as difficult as I thought it would be coming into this challenge, but at the same time it was easier than my worst fears had imagined.
Lunch came quickly and we were all ushered back into the cafeteria where we enjoyed snack cakes and juice boxes. That was one of the criteria for me taking part. I am a huge juice box fan.
After snack time, we headed back to our classes to try and use the chords we had learned together. I struggled at times to produce sound, but overall I think that I did fairly well. Who knows, had I picked up the sax years ago, I might have become a musical virtuoso belting out “Careless Whisper” to everyone I met everywhere I went.
Eventually, the entire class broke down and the kids in my class became less interested in learning to play the sax than they were in joking around with each other and just having fun.
Perhaps it was the sugar. Or, perhaps, it was just kids being kids. Either way, I realized the lesson was officially over and I started to pack up.
And, though it wasn’t the kind of challenge that required a cheat or complete physical exertion, I felt a sense of pride in what I had accomplished. I, also, felt pride in what my classmates had accomplished as well. There was a definite team aspect to the whole exercise. You were pulling for those in your class to do well and they were doing the exact same thing.
Playing an instrument is hard work that takes a lot of practice and resilience. Because of that I gained a ton of respect for those who actually take the time to master an instrument.
And though I won’t be putting on a one man sax show at The Holly or anywhere else anytime soon, or ever, I am glad that I chose to accept this challenge and get to know exactly what it takes to start down the path of being a member of the band.
For those Band of Gold members out there, I enjoyed taking the “Artist’s Journey.”
So, thanks to Anderson, Wood, Crawford and all the other Band of Gold members who helped make this fast start session possible and for turning this sportswriter into a somewhat capable musician for three hours.