It just eight years of age, Dr Jenna Ladd of Townsend Veterinary Clinic in South Albury, NSW, first picked up a clarinet. She’s never really put it down.
“When I was in Year 3 at school, we had to give a one-minute talk on a musical instrument. The teachers showed us the various instruments and played recordings of them so we knew what they sounded like. I loved the clarinet the moment I heard it and wanted to play it.
“I started taking lessons, played in the school band, joined an orchestra in high school and was part of a community band. When I came to Wagga Wagga as a 17-year-old to study vet science, I became a member of the Riverina Concert Band. Having just moved to a new town, joining the band was a great way to meet people. To this day, some of my close friends are old Riverina Concert Band members, and they are all excellent musicians.
“At present, I’m the principal clarinettist for the Riverina Youth Orchestra. This is an initiative of the Riverina Conservatorium [of Music] and incorporates a lot of young musicians. It’s a great way for kids who are learning music to gain experience of playing in an orchestra. We practise once a week and perform a couple of times a term, usually playing something people will recognise, such as Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Sometimes, I will stand and play a solo but I‘m not a bravado player and I always find it a bit scary.
“All the kids in the orchestra have music teachers but I like to help out my section. I’ve been playing with them for years and it’s wonderful to watch very young children grow and become accomplished musicians.
“I love clarinet so much, I even played it at my wedding. My husband is a classical singer and instead of a first dance, we performed together. We both share a love of music so it seemed like the right thing to do. I played clarinet and he sang Shepherd on the Rock.
“Playing the clarinet is also a great way to de-stress. At the end of a long day at work, when everyone has left the clinic, I’ll sometimes pick up my clarinet and play a few classical pieces.
“I love the tone of the clarinet, it’s one of the few instruments in the orchestra played without vibrato. Clarinets produce lovely, pure, clear sounds that sound very human to me. Even though the clarinet is a challenging instrument to play, I’ll never stop loving it. It’s funny how an incident so early in life sent me down an entirely unexpected path. It was a bit like falling in love; love at first sound, I suppose.”