Most musicians hopped into music had started from some sort of "ah-hah" moment during their childhood. Me? That was good old BAND.
I'm not talking about the cool "rockin' guitars, bass and drums" kind of band. My reference is to the nerdy, obnoxious "trombones, trumpets, and marching snares" type of band. The kind that dresses up in uniforms and marches in parades.
Upon entering the socially awkward 7th grade in Texas, I decided to try out for band due to the fact that I sucked at all sports. You see, I really look up to my Dad and his musical ability. He was a drummer in school and played in several rock bands. That sounded awesome, so I figured I'd give that a shot. Elementary didn't have shit for music, orchestra sounded boring, and the closest thing I could find to becoming a badass drummer was joining a junior high marching band since they actually HAD drums. I went in that summer before school started to try out.
Unforunately there are only so many percussion spots in a band. If you don't get in there first, you're fucked.
"What's the trombone?" my little 12 year old brain pondered. Well, it's a "filler" instrument. Musically you fit in between bass (like Tubas) and treble (like Trumpets). I didn't know that at the time so I just followed what my adult overlords ordered me to do.
My second preference was saxophone, which as it turns out was EVERY student's second preference. Glad that didn't happen; the sax is one of the dreaded woodwinds. The only thing worse than being a brass instrument is a woodwind... especially if you're a male.
Playing sax in a junior high band isn't anything like hearing one of those badass jazz saxophones either; the tone is bland and is also considered "filler." Other than guitar and drums, most kids don't know other instruments. Can you picture an 8 year old kid wanting to play OBOE?
As you've probably figured out by now I didn't WANT to play trombone. On top of that I ended up being really good at it naturally so I felt I had to stick with it. I mean, how could I go up to my mom and tell her after spending $800 bucks on an instrument that I hated it? Not only that, but I had finally found something I was really good at. Bittersweet much?
Just so you know, the trombone is the polar opposite of cool. It's essentially a giant version of a slidey whistle.
How many famous trombonists can you name? I can't name one. Not to discredit the skill that it takes to play one and get exceptionally good at it, of course. But fuckballs, I hated playing it, I hated being GOOD at it (if that makes sense), and I hated walking around with that goofy case. There's also that whole being a "tromboner" stigma too.
During band practice I gritted my teeth at those percussionists and their smug, condescending nature. Not only were they playing the instrument that I genuinely wanted to play without any agenda to be "cool," they were so cocky and didn't seem to really care about how fortunate they really were.
You can imagine my general attitude the entire time I was in band. My band director knew I didn't like playing trombone and was especially hard on me because of it. Hey, I get what she was trying to do by pushing me to do my best, but it was just the twist of the knife in the wound that was simply NOT DRUMS.
This attitude carried into high school. Oh yeah, where I grew up our grade system was jacked up. Junior High for me were grades 7 - 9, and High School was 10 - 12. Confused yet? Good.
My 10th grade year I was actually excited to be in band regardless of the fact that I jacked off a giant piece of brass (trombones have this thing called a "slide" that you - oh nevermind). The first week of summer marching band I seemingly walked into a military training camp. Pushups, laps, marching regiments, and even the band equivalent of a drill seargent.
Oh yes, junior high band was a gentle massage compared to the assfuck that high school band was. There were TWO band directors this time. Not only that, but the head director was a trombonist. He saw me, saw that I was good, and targeted me like Jeri Ryan at a Star Trek convention.
I think my junior high director warned my high school director about my attitude:
"Yeah, he's good at it... but he hates it. You've gotta force him to love it, no matter what the cost!"
If I wasn't in tip-top form, or if I slightly messed up, he unleashed the fury of a thousand saliva-tsunamis at me.
Once marching season ended (aka FOOTBALL SEASON *hands in face*) we entered symphonic band. This is where we sit in a room and rehearse more complex music for competitions. There were also individual competitions such as all-region and all-state where you masturbated your instrument in front of judges and were scored based on how well you did.
One of these competitions was called, "Solo & Ensemble." This, like ALL of those fucking competitions, was a "requirement" for all students regardless of the fact that they were actually optional (something I found out later). We had to wrastle up a piano accompanist, pick a piece of music, and play in front of judges. It was retarded, I hated it, but I had to do it.
My accompanist was also my computer science teacher at the time. I had scheduled a rehearsal with her before the event. The day before the rehearsal I had found out that I failed algebra or something. I asked her, "I failed this class, does this mean I'm ineligible for solo & ensemble?"
She responds, "Yes, I believe so."
I didn't attend solo & ensemble that year because when you fail a class, you cannot participate in any extracurricular activities. This is a law in Texas. My CS teacher told me I was inelligible. Her being a teacher, I believed her.
The next morning in the band hall I was talking with the only couple of buddies I had in band (including the infamous JARSH). During our teenaged conversation I find out that I was indeed elligible; the semester cutoff was right after solo & ensemble.
The atmosphere in the room suddenly changed. I felt an evil presence. The two hundred or so students loitering in the room felt it too. As my luck would have it, I was the only student that didn't attend solo & ensemble. Panic spread throughout my veins. My palms were sweating. My best friend Jarsh looked at me with sympathetic eyes. He knew. We all knew.
I had chosen the way... of PAIN!
I hid behind some percussion equipment. Any minute our beloved Satan - *cough* - band director would be walking in; I had to hide from his wrath. Why me? Sure I hated playing trombone, but I hated getting chewed out even more. Now I have to deal with both and...
There he is.
Crouched behind two timpani, I watched as our Dark Lord trudged into the room. He walked furiously to his office and pulled out his keys. Without even looking in my direction or toward any students in particular, he yells out, "MR. KERSEY! IN MY OFFICE!"
First of all, how in the fuck did he know I was there! He didn't even glance towards me! The only way that made sense is if his vision was infared based, similar to the predator.
I shamefully rose from my hiding spot, all eyes on me. This wasn't the first time I had been called out in front of everyone before; I had actually been accustomed to it. But this time it wasn't my fault. I have a genuine, legitimate reason for my absence at solo & ensemble. Maybe he'll actually be reasonable and understand my plea!
As I walked into his office, he slammed the door behind me and poured every ounce of verbal rage he could muster. His first question, "Why weren't you there?!" was followed from me with, "I failed algebra and my teacher said I was inell--"
He was notorious for spitting. The first row of woodwinds were in the "splash zone" at rehearsal as he liked to yell and scream at us constantly. Now I was feeling the torrent of evil liquid spew forth without remorse. At this point reason was out the window and I had enough. My attempts to defend myself were dismantled by his furious screams, and I walked out ready to end my high school career by punching him directly in his shriveled up testicles.
God DAMN that would have been awesome. I still dream about it every now and then.
So guess what? I quit band after my sophomore year. Shocker. My high school band director had single handedly got me to hate the one thing I was good at (at the time). Ironically he quit the same year I did; hopefully I had some sort of impact on that. Hey, I'm no teacher, but constantly screaming at your students and making them feel like complete SHIT is, I believe, the worst possible way to teach.
The lesson here is this: Becoming good at something does take hard work and practice, but you don't have to suffer. If you're suffering, get out and start a web comic.
If you or anyone else is suffering from your band director, pass this blog along to enlighten them. Then tell them to BUY STUFF THXBYE
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