On Friday Dec. 3, 2021, I became a musician.
It all began Nov. 3, when Thomas C. Duffy, Yale professor of music and director of University Bands, sent an open call email looking for 10 people to play the triangle at the end of the song “Power and Light” during the Yale Concert Band’s originally scheduled, though ultimately postponed, Nov. 12 concert. When I was forwarded this email, I was admittedly a bit hesitant. In the fifth grade I had a brief stint with the guitar, but I was no musician, and I like to go to bed early, so the 8 p.m. call time was pushing it. Amidst all of my talking myself out of it, though, there was another voice in my head telling me to just go for it, that I would probably never get the chance to do something like this again. So I emailed the professor, volunteering.
The triangle is a funny thing; every friend I told of my upcoming role found goodhearted humor in the instrument I was destined to play. It doesn’t seem like much, and I’ll admit it’s beginner-friendly. The role required no prior experience, and the Thursday rehearsal — the first time myself and my fellow trianglers were picking up the instruments — clocked in at just 15 minutes. But there’s a beautiful simplicity to the triangle, and with our striking we could create an auditory heaven, conjuring up the sound of stars.
Still, there’s more to the triangle than hitting metal with metal. During the Thursday rehearsal, Duffy taught us how to roll the wand in the corner of the instrument. We could play louder or softer, faster or slower and with our technique we could complement and bolster the music. I left Woolsey Hall on Thursday feeling ready for the following night, like a true triangle expert.
I arrived at the Dec. 3 concert shortly before it began. Including myself, there only ended up being nine triangle players. We entered through the stage doors of Woolsey, grabbed our instruments and went to sit in the audience, with three of us on one side of the hall, three on the other and three in the back — I was in the back. We were allowed to wear whatever we pleased since we weren’t on stage, so we blended right in with the audience. The scene was set.
That night happened to be my first time at a Yale Concert Band performance, and I was absolutely blown away. I was so swept up in the music, I became terrified I was going to miss my cue. When “Power and Light,” the second-to-last song of the night, began, I couldn’t decide whether to stare unblinkingly at Duffy, to catch his cue or to keep my eyes on my fellow triangle players, resolving to start playing whenever they did.
Ultimately, my fears were absolved and the cue to us trianglers was clear and impossible to neglect. We all remained seated and began to strike our instruments just as we had rehearsed. The sound for our scattered chorus did resemble stars, twinkling around the room and eventually winking out as the song came to a close. Some audience members turned back to look at us, seemingly surprised by the music coming from where it wasn’t expected.
It had only been 60 seconds, but it was a beautiful minute.
I’d never fancied myself particularly musical, but last Friday shifted something in me. I probably won’t pursue a professional triangle career, but moving forward, I’ll definitely snatch up any obscure, unusual experience or opportunity that comes my way. Because when life gets too square and starts to feel like just one “ting” after another, it’s good to take a step back, not let your views get too obtuse and find a point — or three — to the madness.