The Best 20 Bucks I Ever Spent
Updated: Jul 25, 2019
On this day...
A cocktail out on the town costs ten dollars, if not more...
A flavored latte is yours for five dollars and forty cents, excluding tax...
And gasoline fills a Mini's tank for twenty-five bucks...
Eleven years ago, however, I spent twenty dollars that would - unknowingly at the time - change my life. I wholeheartedly believe that this is the best twenty dollars I have ever spent.
Keep reading to find out what that investment was...
I was well into my sophomore year of high school. At the time, I was a flutist in my school's symphonic band who was itching to learn how to play more woodwind instruments. In my fifteen year-old eyes, the next step was to learn how to play the clarinet.
I knew absolutely nothing about money. I was fifteen. What I knew at the time, though, was that a girl sitting in the back row of concert band had been nearing the end of her days playing in the clarinet section. Confident that she wouldn't be returning to class the following year, I approached her asking what she would be doing with her clarinet at the end of the school year...
"I don't know, but I definitely won't be playing it. It honestly plays like crap. I think I'm gonna throw it away."
My heart sunk.
Throw away an instrument?
Who even does that?
I reacted immediately...
"How much do you want for it?"
"Elissa, it's plastic. It's a hunk of junk."
She had a point, I suppose... it was a plastic Vito clarinet. The corks hadn't been greased in months. Chances were high that the instrument had never been properly cleaned. The original ligature to hold the reed steady was on the edge of snapping from all the times that it'd been improperly adjusted.
Before I could think, I shouted, "I'll give you twenty bucks for it."
For twenty bucks, the clarinet was mine. The only conditions I had were for her to leave any spare reeds that were untouched, and to dispose of the ones she had previously used. Twenty bucks.
That crisp bill was in her hands the next morning. The school year hadn't even ended yet! Not too long after our Spring concert, that "cheap" Vito clarinet was all mine.
By the time I had my second or third lesson with my band teacher (whose primary instrument was the clarinet), my clarinet's ligature had snapped. Mr. Petty gifted me a brand new Buffet Crampton ligature for what was to later be placed on a Vandoren mouthpiece. My teacher had me playing on Mitchell Lurie two and a halves. By the following year, I had upped the strength to threes. Though playing around the break posed (heck, still poses) a challenge, playing the clarinet felt (heck, still feels) like second nature.
Recently, I took the clarinet into my local music store so they could take a look at how "horrible" condition it had been in. I had never taken it in for a cleaning or a tune up. Eleven years in the making of what was sure to be a hefty fee and loads of pad replacement and God-only-knows what.
Despite not having taken the best care of this instrument over the years - with not the greatest track record kept from its previous owner - there was absolutely no charge. The store owner had mentioned that this clarinet was in great condition. No pads needed replacing and the overall mechanism was working well with no complications.
Nearly eleven years later, it still works like a charm and has been used to teach private clarinet lessons and perform on stages in Upstate theatrical productions. This twenty-dollar investment has truly changed my life. Before leaving the music store, I had picked up a box of strength threes to try (a ten-pack) along with a five-pack of threes for a bass clarinet that a school district lent me for a theatrical production that i'm currently in.
The grand total: fifty-five dollars.
With my theatrical debut nearing its end this weekend (Indecent), today I reflect on not only how blessed I have been - surrounded by an incredibly encouraging musical community - but how handing over that crisp twenty dollar bill had completely impacted my career - all for the best!
What have you deemed to be your top purchases? I'd love to read them in the comment section below!
As always, thanks so much for reading and for supporting the collective. Can't wait to show you what's in store! This week, we've got a new post every single day!
Happy (almost) Spring Break!