Edna Lewis first played music in public on Armistice Day, November 11, 1918. At age 11 she played a bugle and marched with the Boy Scouts in the parade. Although she already had years of violin lessons (``I spent all of my time trying to tune the thing'') and piano lessons (``I didn't like the piano. I always wanted something I could blow.'') Eventually Edna's mom bought a saxophone and, being a ``natural psychologist'', she told Edna that the saxophone was for herself and that she was going to take the lessons.
Edna begged her Mom to allow her to try the saxophone. ``I begged and begged for the thing, and she allowed me to beg for a week or so and then she finally let me have it.'' I learned to play that sax in about three months. And even though I could play as good as a man, most bands of that era were all-male. Edna finally met a band leader who told that if she cut her hair into a ``boyish bob'' and wear a tuxedo that he would use her all the time so she did. This happened in 1922.