I started playing the piano when I was quite young, but it wasn’t because I wanted to. Every week my parents would herd me into the family station wagon and drive us to this sweet little old lady’s house so I could just sit at her piano and be grumpy. Needless to say, I didn’t want to be there—at all! Even though it wasn’t what I wanted, my parents knew that they were starting to build something in me. I didn’t want it or even know what “it” was, but they knew that I needed it. They had started building the base of my musical lamp.
These lessons went on for a few more years until my older brother, also reluctantly taking lessons, quit. I was able to convince my parents that if he didn’t have to take lessons, neither did I. And, it worked. No more piano lessons! I had quit, yes, but I was unaware that my base was already built. A few years later, thanks to a neighbor, I became interested in playing the trumpet. My parents, still upset from me quitting piano lessons, said that I could play the trumpet, but I had to buy my own instrument. I drained my savings account and bought my first instrument. I really enjoyed it, and I wasn’t all that bad at it either. My parents saw my interest and arranged for me to have lessons. I LOVED taking trumpet lessons! I loved it so much, I even started playing the piano again. Here I am, taking my lamp out of storage and buying my first light bulb. Remember the lamp I didn’t even know I needed all those years ago?
When I started high school, music was just a hobby for me. I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t something I wanted to do as a career—I actually wanted to be an orthodontist. But as I continued to play my trumpet, and now piano, music started to grow into something that was way more profound for me. I had many great teachers up to this point who helped me make sure I was correctly screwing in my light bulb. Through the mentorship of these great teachers, I was able to get quite good at both playing the trumpet and the piano—continuing to attach my light bulb to the lamp my parents had graciously built for me.
I had a lamp, I bought the bulb, and now I had the skills to screw it in, but now what? It was my senior year of high school when my band director, Ray Barfield, helped to eventually convince me to flip on the switch. He saw something in me as a musician that I didn’t see, or I wasn’t willing to see. Through his encouragement and perseverance, I decided at the last second, to make a career shift toward music—thankfully! It’s the great teachers, like Mr. Barfield, who are the ones to help us turn on the light—to illuminate our paths and to help us see our potential. Incandescent is my celebration of all of the amazing Mr. Barfield’s out there. Thank you for being in our lives and working so hard to give us those light bulb moments.
Todd Goodman’s Incandescent was commissioned by Andrew Smouse and the Bedford Symphonic Winds, with support from Taylor Growden and the Bedford High School Band Boosters.