Musician’s Stories from the Trenches – Mardou Case

 Editor’s note:  This is another in our recurring series of musician’s stories.  Some are biographies, others are specific events in a musician’s life.  We hope you will enjoy reading these original stories, as told by the musicians themselves.

Mardou Case’s musical story:

Mardou Wind Synth PlayingI don’t have a “music in the trenches” story, but rather music as part of life. As a teenager trying to decide on a college major, I naïvely said to my uncle that I wanted to be a musician. His sagacious reply was “Take something you can make some money with. You can always play music.” I’m so glad I took his advice. This is not to say anything against professional musicians– I am in awe of them. And although I like to read and play music and can play several instruments, I’m not a good musician, definitely not talented enough to earn a living playing music.

And yet I still play, for pleasure, for ego, to keep my brain from turning to mush, and a host of other reasons. As an infant I played recorder (doesn’t everyone?). As a teen I played guitar and flute. I didn’t play for a couple of years during college, but then rediscovered the joy. I bought another flute after mine was stolen and an electric guitar. Later a band I knew needed a bass player, and so I learned bass. I played in various incarnations of that band for more than a decade. When I stopped being the bass player for that band, I met a kindred spirit whose band had also just reconfigured. The fellow is a sax, harmonica, flute and recorder player.

After discovering recorder duets were more difficult than anticipated, we formed a flute duo called Bard’s Baroque playing “Shake and Jake”, or Elizabethan and Jacobean music as well as more ancient music. We worked up sets and had a monthly standing gig at a local upscale restaurant that we lovingly called our “Will Play for Food Tour”. Meanwhile, in my day job as a software tester, my elbow tendons eventually became so damaged from repetitive motion that I could no longer hold my flute for more than a minute or two at a time. My duet partner occasionally played a Yamaha WX wind synth. I can’t remember the model he played, but he loaned me a WX11 and WT11 wind synth rig and said to give it a try. I took a while getting used to it, and I found that because the instrument holding position is in front of the body and the neck strap takes much of the weight, I was able to play again without the arm pain. I now own two of the WX11 models and I connect to a Roland JV-1010 using a WindWorks Design WW-BAT. I use both breath-based and velocity-based patches. I’m still not a very good musician, but at least I can continue playing and enjoying the camaraderie that accompanies it.

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