Whoa Mama

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Ode to the 6th Grade Band

Sitting through the Middle School Concert tonight, I was unexpectedly enveloped in nostalgia. As a former band geek, the band tugged my heart strings with fond memories. I smiled often while thinking back on the "Tour" to Cedar Point, the annual competition for first chair in piccolo and joy of hanging up the feathered coffee can hats at the end of each marching band season when I could settle into my seat as the lone bassoonist. Moreover, I was reminded how truly grateful I am for the depth of experience and enduring connections borne from making music together.

In my wistfulness, a few observations came to mind:

1. Brass players, especially trumpeters, tap with unfettered determination.
2. Dissonant pieces featuring mythical creatures hide a great deal of questionable fingering.
3. No pop song is beyond the reach of band music. I submit into evidence the LHS rendition of Only the Young and tonight's Beach Boys tune during which those cheeky bastards all popped on sunglasses.
4. Syncopation is like eyeshadow. You can follow the instructions, but you've got to grow up to really get it right.
5. Starter percussionists do go "boom chink boom chink boom chink chink", just like the elementary school band teacher used to call out to keep them on track. (name please? anyone?)
6. There is a very short menu of middle school jazz pieces to choose from.
7. All band/orchestra instructors unbutton their performance vest to be more hip when the jazz band plays. It never works.
8. The kid with long hair, the purple electric guitar, bandanna on his head and leather jacket over the requisite band t-shirt clearly doesn't like the choice of music but knows he's got to learn the fundamentals. Kudos. You'll do fine, kid. In Lackawanna, circa 1988, we had him too except it was drums and he sported the full marching band attire with a long, bitchin mullet . RIP Kevin.
9. And finally, it is my fondest hope that the 11 y.o. bassoonist is fierce and unapologetic for bucking the allure of the violin, flute and clarinet. Well, that and that she gets to play "The Blue and the Grey" someday. It really is a fabulous piece for the instrument.

I've got a lot of years of middle and high school concerts in front of me. I hope at each one I'll remember what the music is giving back to the kids as I'm treated to "In the Mood", Gershwin Medleys, Madonna as sheet music and Sleigh Ride.


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