I don’t remember the day of the week (probably a Monday), or the day of the month, but I shall never forget that day. I can’t describe to you how nervous I was just walking toward the school building. I felt like what a country boy must feel like walking into New York City for the first time–overwhelmed and scared to death. Little did I know that it was the beginning for four of the best years of my life. Back then, we all wanted to get it over with. Now, what I’d give to go back and do it all over again (with the obvious changes of course).
She was sitting by herself as I walked toward her. I didn’t know why she was there, but I knew it must be her first time there too. She looked almost as scared as me. Her name was Charlotte. She was the first person I spoke to in high school. As we talked we learned that we were there for the same reason–drum camp. As I recall, we did discuss how we had anticipated drum line, but really didn’t know what to expect. Having met each other was probably a good thing because we were able to understand that neither of us were alone in our fright. It was a good first encounter and from there we became very good friends.
Drum camp always started two weeks before band camp. By the time the band got to camp, we had already learned how to march and could play the cadence to which the band marched into the stadium. I remember it being very hot and difficult. As freshmen, we got to march all the instruments that no one else wanted to. We carried bass drum, cymbals, and sometimes the tri-toms, all of which were heavy. Our drum instructors were upper classmen who already knew the music and how to march. They were, at times, very hard on us. They taught me a lot about discipline and working hard to achieve something good. I remember once learning the bass drum part to the cadence and thinking I would never get through it. One of the guys told me that we were going to practice until we learned it or until we could not straighten our arms. We paid our dues alright, but it was all worth it on Friday night when we got to march the show.
Charlotte and I went on to make it all four years in band. I stayed in the drum line battery, playing bass, tri-toms, and snare. She played mallet percussion and went on to be the drum major her senior year. That was an incredible growth for her. I saw her last year at a band competition where her child was playing. I too had all of mine go through band at some point in their school years. That was pretty cool to hear us talk about our kids playing.
Were it not for band and chorus, school would have been completely miserable. (Lunch was pretty cool too.) Band was my reason for going through the whole process. I wish now that I had had enough sense to know that if I applied myself, I could have done both quite well. It’s too late to worry about that now.
In the past week, I’ve played in an orchestra for the local drama group’s version of Guys and Dolls with my chorus teacher from high school and went to a concert where my high school band director was actually still playing. He is in the Shoals Area Community Concert Band. They did a gig at our church building in honor of Handy week. It was a blast to see them. They all look great. It’s pretty cool to get to see the people who had such an impact on my life so long ago.