Last week of October
Sophomore year in high school
A.P. English class

There were only 18 of us in our advanced English class. And 1/2 of them were gone on band tour. The silly thing about it all was that I was friends with all the band geeks and so quite literally I was the only person on my side of the room and everyone else was on the other side of the room. My teacher (Bless her fabulous heart!) kept asking me to move over, but I was enjoying, in a painful sort-of way, my abandonment. I spent my time jawing about how sad it was that all my friends had left me (as if I wasn't friends with anyone else in the class). Eventually my teacher snapped at me a little and told me to move over and be quiet. So I did, but after that week I vowed I would never let them go on band tour without me again, somehow.

Early April
Same year
After school

"Eowyn, Eowyn!" Sally came rushing up. "Here's the deal. I can't be at State Band this year and Doc asked if I would find a replacement. I think you could do it. Can you play percussion for me for State Band this year?" I perked right up. . .And instantly got nervous. Sally played mallets and I could do it a little, but I never had for band before. However, if I was going to get in band, better mallets than flags.

"Sure Sally, I'll try it."

"Ok, here's the music. We are having early morning band practices. You can come in after school to practice, and if you can get out of last period, then come to band and rehearse with the band."

"Ok, I'll see what I can do."

I thought about this a bit, you see, I had early morning seminary that year. (I know, I know, those of you who know me know that I lived in a place that had release time, but that year they decided to have a trial early morning. Let me just say right now that I was probably the reason that trial failed. I think I missed 75% of class that last semester, what with early morning orchestra and band rehearsals, along with prep for solo and ensemble) But then I figured, "To heck with that!" I wanted to play with the band. (And yes, I did say heck.) So I started attending rehearsals.

It was a blast.

My gazillion years of piano lessons paid off big time and mallets were easy for me to pick up. (Mallets being instruments like the xylophone, marimba and bells, in case you were wondering.) And thus began my two and a half short years of band. For the next two years I lived and breathed band (and orchestra, but that's a different bundle of posts). I did marching band during the late summer and fall and jazz and concert band the rest of the time. I wandered from instrument to instrument in the back of the room. I did chimes, xylophone, marimba, bells, timpani, bass drum, and all the various little things like the cow bells and stuff.

No, I didn't play them all at the same time. But I played them all. I never really touched the drums, snare and the like. And the one time they had me play the cymbals, I totally made them sound horrible. (Who knew there was an art to playing the cymbals?) But I did all the rest of it.

My first year in marching band I played in the pit. That's the part of the band that never has to go anywhere. We played a field version of the song below: Procession of the Nobles. And I got to play the timpani. That complicated things considerably.

See, in marching band, the pit only has the time it takes the band to march out on the field and do the drum major's salute to get all our instruments arranged and ready to go. We had help, but I had to tune the timpani. That's tough to do in a noisy stadium. And we really didn't have much time. But it was fun, and when we started playing this song, which I think was our closer, I had a blast pounding the heck out of the timpani.

So now, hearing this song brings back memories of panicky moments trying to get things set up. Of cheering fans. Of sweaty parades and silly moments. Of KFC lunches on competition day in California, and people hanging off bars. Of band tour romances and buying t-shirts for Sadies. I could go on for hours. This boy and that boy. The girl that drove me insane! The time that 1/2 of the flags were mad at me. I wish I had all the time in the world to write down the memories that come flooding back. I packed as much as I possibly could into my jr. and sr. years of high school (except sometimes homework) and loved every minute of it.

I wouldn't go back for the world, but I love these memories.



So as I've typed this, I'm beginning to doubt the validity of my own memory. Did I really play timpani on this song? I also have a memory of a fellow pit player tuning and playing the timpani. Did we have two timpani songs? Am I projecting myself into her spot? Am I totally off base? I wish I knew where to find her and ask her what she remembers, because I'm curious as to how my two different and seeming contradictory memories fit. I'm sure there is something I'm missing.

Also, I find it funny that I 100% consider this song a band song when I've played it on the violin once or twice. I can't even remember the marching band version we played, but I still think of marching band when I hear it.
2 Responses
  1. Kimberly Says:

    Funny how the mind plays tricks on us, eh? One reason I'm glad I'm capturing some of the old memories now, 'cause they sure are slipping away lately.

  2. charrette Says:

    Our oldest son played percussion in the high school band...until he had a falling out with the conductor. I was sad. I LOVED it.

    Playing the timpani on this piece must have been SO MUCH FUN! I can imagine you pounding away....