Quite a Bassooner

 In Stories

“What’s she doing carrying that?” asked Johnnie Du Plexis one afternoon. He and Sarah “Rosebud” Caldwell were looking out of the big front window in Sarah’s living room. Her babysitter was in the kitchen, fixing snacks for the two of them.

“It’s Mommy. She’s carrying her music case.” Sarah jumped down from the chair where she was standing. “Come on, Johnnie. Let’s go help her.”

“Here you are.” Sarah’s mom, who wasn’t tall, put her big case down on the sidewalk. “How’s my little Rosebud?” She hugged Sarah.

“Hello, Johnnie.” She shook his hand.

“Can we help you, Mommy?” asked Sarah.

“Why, yes. I have something you can carry for me.” Sarah’s mom took out a manila envelope and gave it to Sarah.

“It’s music for me to practice for our next concert.”

“Wow,” exclaimed Sarah. “Can you play it for us?”

“Certainly. Let’s go inside now. I’m tired from orchestra practice.”

Sarah’s mom took her big case and put it in her music studio. Sarah and Johnnie followed her.

“Say, Mrs. Caldwell, what kind of instrument do you play?” asked Johnnie.

“It’s called a bassoon,” answered Sarah s mom.

“Could you play something for us?” asked Johnnie.

“I’d be glad to, honey. Now I have to do something else. If you come over Saturday, I’ll play a little concert for you. I’ll give your mom a call to see if we can arrange it.”

For the next few days, Johnnie wondered what kind of instrument lay sleeping in that big case. It’s like this. He ran from one side of the room to the other. To his grandpapa, he said, “I don’t know how Sarah s mom carries it. She’s not very tall.”

Johnnie even talked about the big case to his mother. “What kind of music do you think Sarah’s mom will play on it?”

“Probably classical music,” she answered.

“What is classical music?” he asked.

“It’s music that guys like Ludwig van Beethoven and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote.”

Johnnie remembered those names from the CDs his mom and dad played. “Did those guys ever write rap music?”

“I don t think so,” answered his mom. “You’re going to see Sarah and her mom Saturday morning. Ask Mrs. Caldwell about it, okay?”

“But I want to know NOW,” demanded Johnnie.

“Mrs. Caldwell is an expert in classical music. She will explain it all to you. I don t know anything about Mozart and Beethoven except that they wrote the music we listen to on the CDs.”

When Saturday morning arrived, Johnnie ran down to the kitchen. His dad was preparing pancakes for breakfast.

“Is it time to go to Sarah Rosebud’s?” asked Johnnie.

His dad looked at the kitchen clock. “You have about an hour. Here, eat first. Then, I’ll take you over to her home.”

Johnnie loved his dad’s blueberry and buckwheat pancakes. He gobbled them down, raced out the door, and waited for his dad to get the car out of the garage.

When they arrived at Sarah’s house, Johnnie got out, and stumbled up the stairs. He shoved his finger on the doorbell. Sarah opened the door.

“Are you ready?” he asked her.

“Mommy, Johnnie’s here,” said Sarah.

A deep nasal wail escaped from Mrs. Caldwell’s studio.

“Wow,” he said. “Is that the bassoon?”

“You two, come to the studio,” shouted Sarah’s mom.

Johnnie and Sarah sat on chairs in front of the mysterious instrument.

“Johnnie, I’ve been playing this since I was in high school. “

“Rosebud, I’m going to play the music you asked me about. It was in the manilla envelope, remember? It’s a piece written for the bassoon by the composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.”

Johnnie s eyes were glued to the big, dark red bassoon. He watched Mrs. Caldwell’s fingers move rapidly and then slowly, up and down the big instrument.

“Wow.” He widened his eyes as he gazed at the mouthpiece she was playing on. It was curled into the shaped of a thin, silver pipe.

When she finished, Johnnie yelled, “You’re quite a bassooner.”

She smiled. “Thanks very much for the compliment. I like the word bassooner. Ordinarily, I’d be called a bassoonist.”

His eyes widened again. “Is there any way I could learn to play that?”

She picked up two small wooden reeds. “Here, you two, put these in your mouths and blow on them.”

Johnnie tried to make a sound out of the reed. “I’ve never done anything like this.”

“If you can get a sound out of the reed, you’re on your way to becoming a bassoonist.”

“You mean a bassooner,” he said.

Mrs. Caldwell joined in laughing with him and Sarah.

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