On a bright and unseasonably warm Saturday in October of 2012- my first HONK! Fest experience- I found myself dancing in the heart of Davis Square to the driving sounds of a renegade brass band from Detroit. Out of the entire wild spectacle, I found myself watching one trumpeter in particular, his face smeared with eyeliner and gold glitter, his playing shockingly intense on an instrument I had only thought of as producing poised and disciplined music. My ideas of what it was to play the trumpet shattered on the bricks below my feet; this fellow’s simultaneous playing and dancing were comparable to a rockstar shredding on a guitar.
The next day, I rented a trumpet from a local music shop and began the (very noisy, far-from-dignified) journey of teaching myself to play. I had played piano, guitar, steel drums, other percussion and various instruments, and done a lot with voice throughout my childhood and adolescence, but brass was a new adventure. Very soon thereafter, I found myself playing percussion for Second Line Brass Band, where I met Kevin, Shaunalynn, Paul, and others who, a few years later, united to bring Kevin’s initial vision School of HONK into being.
As a mentor at School of HONK, my foremost interest is in enabling people of all ages and ability levels to experience 1) the joy of making music in a group by feeling empowered to take risks without fear of judgement or failure, and 2) the exhilaration of performing HONK!-style – sometimes on the move, sometimes standing still, to a crowd of unsuspecting onlookers as part of a spontaneous, crazy, but cohesive group; and to see onlookers engage with smiles and dancing, and maybe even having them join us the following Sunday after witnessing our fun. The ever-growing community that is School of HONK is an unending inspiration to me. I look around each Sunday at that session’s unique group of individuals and I am flabbergasted time and again by the talent, courage, silliness, good-heartedness, and generosity that is practically bouncing off the walls. Come be a part of what we’re all creating together!
Photo by Leonardo March