Saturday, January 21, 2012

High School Band

I used to play the flute in my high school band. I wasn't any good: there were three rows of us and the best players like Mac, Katie, and Emily sat in the first row, and I was comfortably mediocre in the second row. Being in band meant automatic participation in marching band, so I even spent a week of August at band camp learning our routine. We got packets of pages and pages of little dots in formations, and each dot had a number that corresponded to a person. Within a certain number of beats, you moved to the location of your dot on the next page, making shapes like a baseball diamond and moving squares. Over and over, we marched around the school parking lot with the drum majors keeping exaggerated time atop their towers. Heel, toe. Heel, toe. All very technical. This was in addition to the hour of class time we spent practicing our sheet music in the band room. (I remember making faces with my clarinet-playing friend Holly who sat directly across from me.) We performed during halftime at football games, competed in some competitions, marched in some parades, and had normal sit-bored-in-the-auditorium concerts. I dutifully attended these events and even occasionally weighed down my backpack with my flute to practice at home.

Right before the second semester of my sophomore year, I quit band. Because I had been part of the band for over a year, I felt like I needed to explain in person to my band teacher my reason for quitting. Or maybe my mom told me I had to. I don't remember. I went in during lunch to break the news. I think I said that I was really busy and my class schedule was too full to fit in the classes I wanted along with the classes I needed. My band teacher seemed to take it really hard, which caught me off guard. (Let's please remember that I was not a flute star.) I don't remember if he tried to convince me to stay in band, or if he was just curt and distant about it, but I do distinctly remember that he said, "I guarantee that you're really going to regret this decision."

I was a little taken aback because I had been so sure about my decision. The reasons I gave him about time and my class schedule were true, but, in addition, I just didn't like band that much. I didn't like practicing. I didn't have the same core group of friends in band that some people had. I had a lot of other activities like soccer and school that I was more invested in.

But all the same, I've been dying to know if my band teacher would end up being right about this. Would I end up regretting my bold move to quit band?

Almost ten years later, I can safely say that I do not. Does a small part of me like the idea of being more musically talented and having a close group of band geek friends that I've kept in touch with all these years? Sure. In the same way I wish that I had been a part of my high school's theater productions or the yearbook staff. But band just wasn't my thing. Instead, I have really great friends and memories from my soccer teams and my classes. I understand where my band teacher was coming from. Band was his thing. If he had quit band his whole life would have been different. But without band, I still had lots of friends, and I also had room in my schedule to take classes like wood tech, pottery, and painting.

Plus, quitting band meant that I'd never have to look like this again:

4 comments:

Renny said...

Hey those band uniforms are hot. I'm pretty sure the plume on my hat was about three feet high.

I never regretted quitting marching band either. It made me want to shoot myself in the face, plus I was failing seminary. Why didn't we ever have any flute playing parties?

Kim said...

I love that you were in marching band. I'm also impressed that you got a reaction when you quit. Mine was more of a "good riddance." I guess they could tell that I hated them.

Elisa said...

That picture!

I dropped a Calculus class my senior year to kick around in the yearbook class, and my teacher told me I'd always regret it. He was totally wrong. I haven't felt a moment's regret over that decision.

Josephine said...

I dropped out of orchestra after my sophomore year and also had some kind of one-on-one conversation with the teacher. Why is that necessary? Weird. We should discuss sometime which is nerdiest: band, orchestra, or choir.