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Last night, James and I got together with a group of recorder players in Nevada City. There were seven other players in attendance at their weekly meeting on Wednesday nights. They hail from all around the area.

There were a couple of occasions in the past when our friend M.A. joined us in playing recorder trios, but this was the first time that we’ve connected with a group of other recorder players.

James and I were both a bit nervous to “be on display” at this first meeting. I had contacted the director a few days previously, who asked us to play a couple of duets for the group so they could hear what we could do.

This was an audition, of sorts. But as I reminded James as we parked the car and toted our big bag of recorders into the rehearsal room, we were auditioning THEM as much as they were auditioning us.

In addition to James and me, there were three men and four women. Everyone was friendly and welcoming.

The youngest member of the group was a rather “unusual” woman who looked like she might have been in the punk scene in past years. She was very nice but shy.

The rest of us were middle- to late-middle aged. Lots of gray hair and beards!

This group plays occasional concerts in the Nevada City area, including the schools.

In fact, they are preparing a program for a junior high school’s annual Renaissance event coming up. James and I were invited to participate and we accepted. We’ve got one more rehearsal next Wednesday night, then a rehearsal at the school at the end of the month. This program will also be repeated in early March in downtown Nevada City.

The director led the group by beating a large drum to keep the rhythm, as we rehearsed four Renaissance dances.

It was quite fun to play with a group of recorder players for the first time. James and I have always wanted to expand our playing experience beyond the two of us.

As we progressed through the rehearsal, I started to relax and thought that perhaps we weren’t going to be asked to play our duets, after all.

But suddenly the director DID ask us.

James and I performed reasonably well, although we were both a bit on edge. It’s interesting to think that although I’ve performed many times in front of very large audiences with the French horn in orchestra without being nervous, I was somewhat nervous playing the recorder in front of seven receptive people.

Everyone liked our original compositions. We played one of mine and then one of James’.

James later asked if anyone was interested in trying out his composition to play themselves, because no-one else has ever played it other than us. A couple of the women agreed to do so. It will be interesting to see what they come up with!

Hopefully, our participation in this recorder group will open up possibilities for composing and arranging pieces for at least nine recorders — something we’ve wanted to do for a long time.

I’m glad that James and I have finally taken the plunge to reach out to other recorder players in the area. It will stimulate us to write more music for these funny, rather off-beat little instruments — which actually have a great deal of potential.

We’d like to expand the traditional Renaissance/Baroque recorder repertoire to include more “modern” pieces in the pop, jazz and classical styles.

The director had written an arrangement of Petula Clark’s 1964 song “Downtown” which we read through last night. I chuckle now to think about us middle-aged recorder fuddy-duddies GROOVING on this pop hit. It was fun!