I’m with the band

Okay, I’m not with the band, not anymore. But once upon a time, I was. Here’s the proof:

I was in my high school’s marching band for one year before I got braces on my teeth, which ended my career as a trumpet player. I had to put orthodontic wax over the front brackets to keep from shredding the inside of my mouth when I played, and all that bulk ruined my embouchure. I switched briefly to the baritone horn my sophomore year, which had a larger mouthpiece that was easy to play even with a mouthful of metal and wax, but I quickly got bored with the “oompa, oompa, [rest for 50 bars], oompa-pa” parts I was asked to play (there are no great solo parts for baritone horns in the typical marching band music catalog).

Despite private lessons and a lot of practice–I really did try hard–I was never a first-rate player, so it didn’t break my heart to leave the band behind when it became clear that the baritone and I were never meant for each other and the trumpet didn’t want me back. Besides, I was never too keen on that heavy, incredibly unflattering wool uniform in which I roasted during the day and froze at night. My strongest memories of marching band are of being physically uncomfortable one way or the other.

Even so, the thump and rattle of the drumline from the local high school’s marching band rolling over the neighborhood as I walked the dogs this evening took me back to those long-ago football games when I was just a kid, trying to play the music and remember the steps all at the same time. It’s a lot harder than it looks, and I love to watch a band do it well.

Maybe I’ll go over to the high school one of these Friday nights and catch the half-time show, just for old times’ sake.


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