High School Band Nerd
My Jacket Band Letters - Closeup
Were you one of us?
Band nerds didn't just pop up out of thin air. They had to be nurtured and cultivated in fertile music ground. In my part of the country, they started in fourth grade in September. You and your parents were invited to an after school showcase. A chosen classroom was converted into an instrument ZOO. Shiny instruments of all shapes and sizes were displayed. With rubbing alcohol and clean cotton balls in hand, high school students volunteered to help the band director demonstrate the instruments and guide the grade school kids into getting sounds out of the mouthpieces. The band director checked your mouth shape and teeth position to see if they would be suited to a particular horn.
I think at the time I wanted a big instrument like the saxophone. But my parents and the band director tested my embouchure (an embouchure is the way your mouth is shaped when trying to get a sound out of an instrument). They strongly pushed, I mean urged me to play the flute. I wasn't that thrilled but I did think it was a beautiful instrument. "Plus," said the director, "If she needs braces later on it's easier to play on a flute with braces than a saxophone."Later that week when we got my new rental flute, I remember I wasn't allowed to open the case in the car. That was difficult. Once at home, I could look at it and touch it in the case but I wasn't allowed to take it out until my first flute sectional at school.
My practicing experience was pretty terrible. I would try to try to get a sound out and kept getting dizzy and head achey. I could get a sound on and off but was struggling with a consistent tone. Even though I had had piano previously, reading the flute notes and holding the flute and blowing a tone while changing my fingers was frustrating and discouraging.
I told my parents I wanted to quit.
Here's what my parents said that ended up changing my whole life from there on. "Stick with playing the flute until Christmas. Then, if you really want to stop then you can."Having a way out was a relief. You can guess what happened. Flute playing started to get easier and the dizziness went away. I actually got good quickly and moved up in the flute rank.
Tales From Band Camp
Love the Mad Magazine parody cover. More humor from a former Band Geek!
And the Beat Goes On
Middle school band was my favorite because I loved the band director, Mr. Schuch (pronounced shoe). He picked really great pieces and was a positive jovial personality. We played the Mission Impossible Theme and Der Meistersinger. Even though I wasn't taking private lessons yet, I was usually first or second chair in the flute section.
Popular joke: What's the football team doing on the band field?
The Author Marching with Her Piccolo
The Float's afloat!
Now to witness the stardom of the true high school elite; those of us in the high school marching band! 10th grade was the beginning of high school. Even before the official school year started we had BAND CAMP. In Pennsylvania, August was and is the hottest month. There were days in the 90's. Plus, there was no shade on the field. Hot and sweaty, you lived for the water breaks. But it was so cool to be with a music group.
The whole school would stand in awe of us come the fall as we marched our configurations of geometric shapes on the field. We were royalty with our feathered shakos (hats for those of you not in the know). We were the cream of the crop, well, except I guess for the football players and cheer leaders maybe.
Our duties were to perform at all the football games at home and away. Although we weren't in sports, our activities and school spirit dedication gave us the ability to earn school letters and special band jackets.The homecoming parade was the highlight. Every special club or group in school had their float. I don't have any pictures, but man I remember making dozens of blue and white paper flowers and sticking them on the float! I started marching with a flute and graduated to piccolo my senior year. A real thrill was being in the piccolo line while being showcased during the Stars and Stripes Forever. That, and playing the Theme From Shaft! Us flute and piccolo players were allowed to tie school color ribbons on the tails of our instruments so they would flutter in the breeze as we marched and played. We played our music displayed in full decoration.
You know you're a band nerd when...
you STILL think the corny band innuendos are hilarious.