Tuesday, May 18, 2010

This One Time, at Band Camp...

The greatest gift that my parents ever gave to me is one that I still have, that I still enjoy every day.  It is unbreakable, always in style, holds its value quite well and I can pass it on to my children while still keeping it for myself.  Music makes my world go round.  Driving to town the other day, I made a fantastic effort to ruin my kids' potential love of music by listening to the the Chenoweth/Menzel version of Defying Gravity from the musical Wicked.  Repeatedly.  Loudly.  There's a chord in there sung by the chorus, near the climax of the song, that gives me goose bumps and that took me back to our high school band room on a hot and humid August afternoon.
People sometimes make fun of me when they ask what sports I played in high school and I calmly say "none."  They don't know that the joke's on them because they've never sat in a room surrounded by derelicts and prodigies both, playing the marching band's music for the coming season as it came in page by page off the fax machine from the arranger. (Yes, there is more to band camp than Smoke on the Water and On Wisconsin.  Much more, in fact.)  They've never heard the atrocity that comes from that first run-through of the song.  They've never marched pattern after pattern on hot pavement in the summer months, wondering if their director and his assistants had mental issues.  They've never gotten the goose bumps when the instruments finally mesh in a complex chord and they have certainly failed to see, faintly, the smile that wants to emerge on that director's face when he hears that glorious sound, but he doesn't let on for he wants his kids to keep practicing.
When I was in high school, my band director had what seemed to me to be a bizarre fascination with anything Aaron Copland or Leonard Bernstein.  I didn't get it then, but I do now.  I totally get it.   Do you? 
My flute doesn't see much action any more and for some strange reason I long to own a piccolo of my very own since the one I played through high school was borrowed.  My Emerson flute still holds a prominent spot in my house, though.  And when I open the well-traveled case every now and then, certain songs from fifteen or more years ago fly through my fingers with nary a thought.  True, the sound is airy and out of tune, but I still have it.  I still have the love, if not the talent (not that my talent ever fell on the prodigy side to begin with).  Perhaps I have the love even more so than when I played often.  Absence does seem to make the heart grow fonder.


  1. ok- so I tried to comment at 5:45am, but to no avail! thank you for warming my heart this early a.m. LOVE this post! Your little ones will be emersed in wonderful music as they grow old and I LOVE that!!! don't worry-- joseph has been listening to Defying Gravity since he was in the womb... its the BEST musical piece EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! they will be better assets to society because they listen and are a part of music..... LOVE LOVE LOVE this post! ;-)

  2. Em-what a lovely walk down memory lane. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Totally get it (Copland/Bernstein is in my Pandora play list ironically)--thanks too for the memories although mine are a few years older than yours! See you in 9! (P.S. need to know about the shoes).