Rudy Guidry has had a love affair with music since the third grade. It started with the marimba, then he found the recorder. The clarinet came next, followed by the baritone sax.
By his sophomore year at Pasco High School, he discovered the tuba. Though he still plays a wicked sax, it's the tuba that moves him.
But never once during his discovery of music has he ever owned his own instrument. The 21-year-old still doesn't.
"It's quite expensive to buy a musical instrument, something I could never afford to do, and neither could my parents because they were raising 13 children," said Guidry of Pasco. He's the youngest child of Richard and Joyce Guidry, also of Pasco.
"But it didn't matter that I didn't have my own instrument," he added. "I was lucky to have grown up in the Pasco School District, which provides instruments for kids to use. It's how I learned to play and I'm so grateful for that."
A new tuba can cost as much as $10,000.
Guidry has been a member of the renowned Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps, based in Colorado, for two years. He also plays with the Columbia Basin College Jazz Ensemble.
He'll be performing on baritone sax with the ensemble and on tuba with the Columbia Basin Concert Band at this year's Jazz Unlimited Festival, which kicks off April 9 at CBC in Pasco.
Guidry credits his Pasco School District music teachers Wendy Smith, James Bennett and Russ Newberry, as well as CBC music teachers, for helping him hone his talent.
"They taught me how much fun music can be so that by the time I got to my freshman year of high school, I knew music was my destiny," he said. "I've had to work my butt off to learn, but it was worth it. It's sad for me to see kids not get an opportunity to play music, which is why I love to teach."
Randy Hubbs, associate professor of music and director of bands at CBC, says Guidry is equally talented on the tuba and baritone sax.
"Rudy is very diligent and dedicated to both the tuba and baritone sax, which puts him at a very high level of excellence," Hubbs said. "Unfortunately, he will be forced with the difficult decision of making a choice between the two instruments next year as he enters the music program at Central Washington University."
Guidry says he would love the opportunity to perform professionally one day, but it'll be music education and the tuba he'll concentrate on at CWU.
"I was first drawn to the baritone sax because there was something about it that spoke to me," he said. "But there's something more challenging about playing the tuba, which is why I plan to focus on that next year."
Guidry still won't have his own instrument while attending CWU in the fall, but he isn't losing any sleep over it.
"I'm paying my own college tuition so there's no money right now to buy a tuba or a sax," he said. "But it doesn't matter because there are always instruments to borrow, and as long as there's a tuba or a sax to play, I'll be happy."
As for buying his own tuba and sax, Guidry said it'll have to wait until he completes his education and pays off his college loans. "It'll happen one day," he said. Some things are worth waiting for, he added.
*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org