Peace be to you…..
I got home at 5:30 am….got stranded… …. watched the sun rise…Thanked God…..then went to bed….got up 4 hours later…brewed some coffee…looked at our scores and got PISSED again and realised some judges in the Marching BAnd circuit could not get a job as a blind referee for a pee wee league football team… So, why do I do this again? Now, I know what you’re going to ask before you ask it; so I will answer your question on why,…. WHY would you—or—– ANYONE to go back to this life.
Let me try and answer that from my perspective….
First, some background: I decided to pursue my fools quest to participate in the Indiana State fair Band Day competition back in the last Century. After listening to a local High School practice during the summer in the mid 90’s, I got the bug. It only took one bite from this dastardly creature to have me forever infected with this naughty virus, this addiction, this titillating allure of a measure of success, this challenge to NEVER STOP Trying….but at what cost.
LONG nights, writing drill, Longer nights arranging music, LONG nights making it fit, tweaking….finding colors that will fit…trying to anticipate what the judges will like (falsely thinking they are going to see this OBVIOUS concept) organising kids, parents, a friend or 2 to work all summer for free or a for a turkey leg/elephant ear, begging my wife to be the lead band parent and promising the world…I could go on but I need to prepare for the 1st home football game in Sept.
Well the stress got to me, after about 13 years of trying, I put it up…I did not want to do this anymore as I began to question myself. I gave up. I was burning out…the only thing I had was my faith, my students, their parents and that ever nagging bug bite. My teaching status changed due to lack of money and I went down to partime…..What I thought was a demotion, a certain 60% pay cut, the loss of self respect, the loss of student respect, parents asking endless questions, wife being supportive but with financial concerns in the very distance in her eyes, nothing was going right……I needed a change….I needed to step back to save my career. So, with the support of the President of my former school, Dr. Hamann, He suggested I apply for this one gig to help them out and so, I did.
I was IMMEDIATELY accepted, build back unprofessionally, sought after for my input, NEVER brought in the office for why an alarm went off or any of that stupid crap, like choosing the wrong font for a logo….(yea, I went there….and I am not sorry).
And then this cute, pretty little color guard director that once worked for me told me of an immediate job opening in Feb/March…..So, I went for it…..I was confident, back with that swagger in my walk, standing tall and with a clean bow tie, I headed to Montgomery Co….. Crawfordsville, In.
I guess my reputation of the “good years” reached this prospective principal because I was not interviewed, I was recruited….I saw this as an opportunity to completely break ties with my former institution (whom I still love, but the school, its mission all of its teachers, the dean and the new principal) and I made it a point to NOT ask for an administration letter of recommendation because…..this was going to be all all on me and guess what? I got the job and did NOT ask for a recommendation letter. I got the gig because some other principal had heard about me….in Crawfordsville….41 miles away from my house…DOESN’T THIS HAPPEN TO EVERYBODY???…I guess so if you are really good at what you do…..now, I know so. So how does this tie into marching band boob judges?
On Thursday, we had rehearsal until 9pm. On Friday, we had to be at school at 8:15am. 7am for me. So, I camped in my band office….woke up, rehearsed, packed, ate, headed out on a 3.5 hours drive with a corporation vehicle that broke down 4 times the week before. Got to the gig before the kids and set up the band parent “compound”; Then is started to rain……..
The Rain gave way to humidity that had to be 101% and the temp spiked to 91. Wanna see guard girls cry? have the air so thick with water and so hot that it makes the hair flat, make up run, equipment slippery and sweat pour off each member….Even the Director gets frustrated.
Finally……..the moment of truth. We perform.
It was a very good run, very respectable. BUT, we went first…..and 16 more bands had to go after us….Still, I was happy and proud of what these new students who respect me and make me laugh, did on the field.
Load back up, clean things off….oh wait. A student is having a heat related issue…time to be a caring father, snatch up someone with a golf cart and address this….
Ok, back at the compound and wait for the awards. ….and we wait for it for another 4 hours.
Me and this cute, pretty little color guard director (who is now a “mommie” and over 21, who I am blessed to work with again) and gave me the heads up for Crawfordsville High School, is sitting next to me as we are watching and critiquing other participants. We see 4 groups we know we should beat and recognise the 5 other groups that did poorly. we should be 8th or 7th…..but
…and those 4 bands we clearly beat BEAT US…..i WAS SO CONFUSED THAT IT TURNED TO ANGER. I have never blown off a judge’s critique in 15 years EVER….until last night. Unbeknownst to me at the time, my partner in crime did the exact same thing. (love working with BB)…….. I want to get back to the van that is pulling the band trailer from the school and prepare for the almost 4 hour drive home…..and, the van is out of gas.
less than 30 min later, AFTER I FILL THE GAS TANK, the van breaks down, shuts down and I roll to a stop. All power is gone……..Battery or Alternator…..,So, (thank goodness for the facebook Messenger App,) with storms moving in and lightning getting closer, no power and the windows rolled down……. I wait WITH A FULL TANK OF GAS the wind picking up speed. Dogs start barking and I have no light source except my phone.
10 min….20 min….finally, the “staff car” (read: a car full of really pissed off techs who DID go the judges critique) arrived and from that point, all we could do is laugh. And laugh we did….”hard”——–about 90 min went by and, the staff and I are under some stress, get some “lemonade”.. (swidt)
They tell me the what these judges say and my blood begins to boil….Like a coloratura singing a note so high that is shatters glass EVERYWHERE….because everyone knows that not everybody can shatter glass on the first attempt…. it takes a lot of pressure, (years of it) like throwing something down really hard to get to that level…like many years of
frustration, I mean, ….practice
….and then one day, it all comes out.
its 2:45 am and we finally get back to the school…..now, we have to unload it: a 19 foot two wheel band trailer and a 27 foot U-Haul truck….and at that cray-cray time, some students decided to stay and wait for us,……I almost cried. I used to teach students like this because they would help no matter what for the director….these are some great kids who stayed and helped.
It is now 4:15 am and I still have an hour drive home….at this point, I am HYPED, inspired and a little prideful because the staff people (college aged kids) are exhausted and pass out in the bandroom. I am filled with the rejuvenation, have my 2nd wind of a re lit teaching career excited for what the next 13 years are going to look like!!!!
Heading home through the country roads with the Grateful Dead blasting at MAX volume…I am screaming at the top of my lungs thanking my Blessed Lord for bringing me to Montgomery County United Marching Band as co-director. I am professionally 100% recharged. After 22 hours of everything that could possibly go wrong do so, have a soul crushing group of “experts” tell me 4 other bands who we (me and the guard director) saw with our own eyes choke do better than us according to them, have a vehicle break down….and…
So, to answer your question on why I would do this Marching Band competition thing again? Because it is fun and I continue to have a blast!
As I turn into my neighborhood, ……the sun is rising. Thanks be to God.
Bye now, and God Love you.