Ginny Densmore was eager to stay involved in Tallahassee’s bustling music scene after retiring from her elementary school teaching career. She joined the Tallahassee Symphony Society, which supports the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra, and was quickly posted to a position as the music chair for their annual Tour of Homes fundraiser. “I loved seeing the beautiful homes all decorated and the live music really added a lot to the atmosphere,” says Densmore, who helped to organize the event for 10 years before taking a hiatus. “It’s really an enjoyable experience.”
Densmore was called upon to organize this year’s Holiday Tour of Homes, which will take place on Friday, Dec. 7, and Saturday, Dec. 8. While Friday’s performances highlight local musicians on piano, flute, viola, clarinet, and classical guitar, Saturday is for the talented youth musicians from Apalachee Elementary School, Raa Middle School, the Javacya Conservatory, and the Tallahassee Home School Orchestra.
Giving an opportunity to these young students reminds Densmore of growing up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and performing in her junior high and high school orchestras and bands. Densmore originally had her heart set on playing saxophone — her imagined, perfect combination of a brass and woodwind instrument — but was swayed by her band director to pick up the clarinet. Reflecting back, she wonders if she’d take up the clarinet again if given the choice.
“I’ve decided, yes, I would,” laughs Densmore. “My mother always told me that playing an instrument would be something I could do my whole life, and so far I have and I’m 79 years old.”
Both her band director and orchestra director instilled in her a lifelong love for making music, as well as the discipline and commitment it takes to practice. For the clarinet, Densmore says a good reed is essential. The reed is a small piece of bamboo that is inserted into the mouthpiece of the instrument to produce the soothing, pure sounds that are hallmarks of the clarinet. It’s a fairly temperamental piece of equipment however, as the sound can change depending upon the weather or venue.
Densmore soon mastered the fickleness of the instrument and served as the principal clarinetist for the Middle Tennessee State College and the Sewanee Summer Music Center Orchestra. She went on to major in music education at Florida State University, following in her mother’s footsteps as a teacher.
Densmore performed with FSU’s orchestra, opera orchestra, symphonic band, circus band and the marching chiefs, and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees before beginning her journey as a teacher at Sabal Palm Elementary School.
She went on to a 25-year career at Florida High School teaching general music to kindergarten through fourth grade. Densmore says she fell in love with teaching the smaller children since that is when a passion for music is first ignited.
“I’m a kid at heart,” says Densmore. “Sometimes we would act out the classical pieces of music and move to them. For ‘The Ballet of the Un-hatched Chicks’ we would be chickens!”
As a performer, one of Densmore’s favorite composers to play is Mozart. Her personal tastes reflect her Southern roots, too. She tends to gravitate towards theclassical country music of Willie Nelson, Randy Travis and Patsy Cline. Always a student, Densmore continues to take piano lessons and practices on her instruments for a half hour every day.
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