Team Player (aka: the Band Geek)

Published April 2, 2011 by S

Tonight is one of those times that makes me miss being a Band Geek.

Yes, I was that person.  I wore the ugly uniform sweater and I performed my heart out as part of my Highschool Concert Band. And last night, as I have many times over the last 10 years, I missed being part of that.

There is no feeling in the world like being part of a group of people and producing such an amazing spectacle as music.  Ok, for some people they get that feeling making the perfect play on the ice in Hockey, or on a Football field, and yes I played Baseball  as a teenager, but my passion was always music.

When I was 7 I started taking piano lessons.  I was never a prodigy, but I enjoyed making music, and playing something beautiful and sometimes recognizable. I went to Band Camp for 2 summers (and no, it’s not like in American Pie, because we are all under 13 yrs old).  I worked on piano there, and also had the option of a second workshop, and learned to play the Harp.  Yes, the Harp.

The funny thing about the Harp is that the strings are all set up like a piano’s keys.  They are in the same order and instead of the black keys for sharp and flats, there are little switches at the top of each string that you change depending on your key signature. (music people will know what I mean by that).  The ‘C’ strings are Blue or Black and the F strings are red to help identify them at a quick glance as you are playing. The rest are easy to figure out with those 2 focal points to work with.  I was by no means a prodigy in that either, but it was fun and beautiful.

As I said, at 7 I started Piano lessons that I carried on until I was 16. I studied the Violin for 2 yrs during elementary school (Grade 5 and 6) and then for Grade 7 and 8 I started training in percussion instruments. Because I had studied Piano for so long at that point it was more a matter of learning technique since I could already read music and understood the “theory” while reading that same music.  I knew the difference between a quarter note and half note.  I knew how to count the time, when to pause, what crescendo and allegro and dozens of other musical terms meant, so I could just focus on learning coordination while playing a full drum set, or how to play timani drums and change their tuning mid-song without the audience noticing.  And because of my ability to read sheet music already, I was able to skip the 1st year band, and join the second year band right away.  Most of the time the director had me playing the Xylophone or the Orchestra bells, but I loved it!

So when I got to highschool, I stuck with percussion.  It is a fun section to play in.  All of the members tend to switch instruments with each song depending on their individual skill.  I still remember the year our teacher had us learn “Hang on Sloopy”.  He didn’t hand out music to the percussion section, and told us to just improvise and have fun with it.  I wasn’t really the best with the drum set, so Blair naturally took that on, Carol took a copy of Flute music and played along on the Xylophone, but I chose the tambourine. 

Now you are probably thinking this is lame, but it was fun!  I could dance with the music and my teacher/conductor told me to have fun with it.  During concerts he even had me moving on the stage, and coming up to the front to get the audience to participate with clapping or to stand up and dance with us.  It was so much fun!

Being in the band became my team sport.  It’s not easy coordinating all those people into making beautiful music, but when you did the feeling was like nothing else!  Being in the middle of all of that music is such an amazing feeling.  I felt like I really belonged, which is hard for teenagers to do.

In the movies and on TV you always see the “band geek” as the lower class citizens of Highschools.  With us that was not the case.  Sure the Football team had more funding and was more recognized during the season, but us Band Geeks were given the same respect all year round.  We didn’t get beat up or shoved in lockers.  I wouldn’t say we were popular, or at least I wasn’t popular, but we weren’t second class citizens.  We were just like any other kid, but we played instruments too.

There have been many times over the last few years that I have missed being part of something big like that. I hope that my kids get to be part of a group like that as they grow.  To add their own talent to others and make something amazing happen.

What brought on this trip down memory lane?  Well, I was home tonight without much to do after the kids went to bed, except to fight off my weather induced headache. So I decided to watch some Youtube videos.  I hadn’t seen the video of the Seaway Mall Flash Mob yet.

For those of you that don’t know what that is, it is a flashmob performance that took place a few months ago at one of the malls local to where I live.  In the food court during lunch, the music for the Hallelujah Chorus just starts to play out of nowhere, and all of a sudden seemingly normal mall shoppers break out into a beautiful (unannounced) performance all over the food court from their seats.  They all look like normal shoppers until they all of a sudden start joining in the song. 

It was all planned ahead of time, and is one of many Flashmobs occuring over the last few years around the world.  Watching that video and seeing several faces that I know among the singers made me miss being part of that.  Not a flashmob since NOONE wants to hear me sing, but part of a strong performance like that.

I don’t have the talent to be a soloist, but I have the ability to join my talents with others and make something great, and one day I hope to be able to perform in that way again…one day.

Here is another video of a Flashmob performance that I liked.  I can’t dance worth a darn, but I’ve always been a sucker for movies with singing and dancing in them.  Think Grease, Dirty Dancing, Hairspray to name a few….and I’ll admit, I am now a fan of the TV show “Glee”.  Yup, that’s right people I’m a Gleek!  So here is a video of a Flashmob dancing to a medley from Glee.  Enjoy!

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