Many of you may know I love tattoos and have several. But you might not know that I have a long history of playing the French horn. In fact, my most cherished tattoo is a symbol of my journey with music. If you’ll indulge me the time, I’d love to share the story with you about my Yamaha Ho-oh logo tattoo & how I got it.
Now, getting a logo tattoo is something I would usually rail against. I mean, a brand is a brand, and I’d rather not promote a brand. However, my Yamaha Ho-oh logo tattoo has a long and winding story tied to it. It’s a story of overcoming challenges and being reborn – something the Ho-oh (which is a Chinese phoenix)
About My Yamaha Ho-oh Logo Phoenix Tattoo
When I discovered the Yamaha Ho-oh logo, I immediately thought of it as a tattoo design, and I knew it would be mine. I wondered, only briefly, about the implications of tattooing a corporate logo on my outrageously anti-establishment design. But the tuning fork-wielding phoenix logo was born in the 1800s. The logo was crafted with integrity and easily became a part of my history too.
This Chinese phoenix progenitor of the Yamaha Ho-oh logo was the first to establish its presence for the fine craftsmanship of elegant instruments. The logo is a reminder of my time as a professional French hornist, and to this day I have no regrets about getting it.
This Yamaha tattoo design is a Chinese phoenix with a tuning fork clamped solidly in her beak. For me, the phoenix is a symbol of being reborn. The tuning fork is symbolic of being “in tune” with the energy, sound, and essence of music. The Yamaha Ho-oh logo and I may have been married through ink and blood for over a decade. But our journey began many years prior to her tattoo debut when I discovered the French horn.
How the French Horn Found Me (and Saved Me)
The history between this Yamaha Ho-oh logo tattoo and I started in elementary school. Crippled by grade-school awkwardness, I recall gimping into a tiny music room. My ungainliness increased at the site of Mrs. Tigue. She was my 3rd-grade music teacher and the object of my youthful adoration.
I remember Mrs. Tigue rounding all her students up in a circle. She passed out a series of musical instruments to each of us. The first of which was a Yamaha French Horn, an instrument Mrs. Tigue professed being quite adept at playing.
The horn was passed from one school child to another – each putting their grubby hands around the horn in the circle. Each child attempted, unsuccessfully, to birth sound from the bowels of the nickel-plated beast.
Lastly, the bright, silvery horn was passed to me. Its metallic skin was bruised from peanut butter and jelly smears left by chubby kid fingers, still unwashed from consuming cafeteria lunches. I cradled the horn lovingly and I remember whispering to it: “I know you’re magic. You’ll play for me.”
My tiny lips pressed against the cold metal mouthpiece. I turned down the corners of my mouth. Then I willed my lips to putter quickly through the cold, marble-like mouthpiece. My efforts were rewarded by a crystalline bellow, a herald of the horn’s brilliance. I blew out a solid ‘middle C’ note emanated from the horn.
Mrs. Tigue stood akimbo in response, her cinnamon eyes glowing in approval at my victory! I coaxed sound from this mass of twisted tubing and unlikely metal. Magic was mine!
Standing in the center of that circle, horn in trembling hands, my peers beamed at me with tooth-missing grins. At that moment I recall feeling gift-wrapped in attunement; a Yamaha French horn trumpeted the surprise arrival of homeostasis, approval, and magic for the first time in my life.
The French Horn in Later Years and Potential Blindness – Yikes!
Years passed and I continued to cut my embouchure on dented King’s and tinny Conn’s – all rented French horns of dubious quality. But I persistently played these metal beasts – chromatic scales & solos ringing through the walls of school practice rooms and childhood hallways.
The summer transitioning between junior and senior high school was one of prolonged anxiety; try-outs for high school concert band were held the first of August, and I was struggling to spin melodic gold from a deflated, barren Elkhart horn.
A fluke of nature intervened. A serious eye infection threatened to take my vision that July, which would make my right eye a vacuous hole of non-sight. Laying in the hospital, agony scraping at my optic nerves, my dad fidgeted by my bedside.
My awareness flickered between pain and painkillers, but I remember my dad’s words uttered from the anxiety of his daughter facing a life of half-blindness. “Make it through this,” he said, “and I’ll buy you the best damn French horn you’ll ever lay hands on.”
My First French Horn: The Unicorn Known as Yamaha 668
I made it out of the procedures with eyesight intact, and dad made good on his promise. He bought me a Yamaha 668, the elite of the fleet for its day. This was a unicorn of a professional horn with seamless nickel streaming like smooth ripples of water in my hands.
It resonated in my arms and I could feel music tingling, aching, itching to be released. I was reborn after playing the new horn for the first time. The sound I could produce was tangible lusciousness, like being robed in musical satin.
That horn took me to 1st chair all through high school, prestige in college years, facilitated me traveling the world in a marching band and even helped me serve as a free-lance musician for both symphonic bands and chamber orchestras.
Last Words on My Yamaha Ho-oh Logo Tattoo
Now, decades later, I no longer play the horn. However, this Yamaha Ho-oh logo tattoo is a powerful reminder. It’s a symbol of the importance of renewal and being in harmony. It’s also a reminder of staying attuned to life in order to make beautiful music (of all kinds – not just with the French horn).
Was it happenstance that my eyesight was saved? I don’t think so. I believe it was the restorative power of my heartfelt devotion for creating good music. Additionally,my love of the French horn rescued me from living a half-blind life (physically and metaphorically).
It’s just all so symbolic! The symbolic implications of the phoenix tattoo, the tuning fork in her beak, and the flight she’s made as a logo for the Yamaha French horn I so deeply loved all those years.
I hope this life story about transition, tattoos, and art was was inspiring for you. As always, thanks for reading!
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