Thursday, February 16, 2012

Who we are.


They say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. So here I am. My name is J, and I'm a Community Band Geek.

("Hi, J!")

You know who you are. You might be one, too. Or worse yet, you might be married to one yet not be one yourself. In any event, you have found your way here, and I am glad. We need one another, you and I. Without one another, what would we do with our weeknights, and when would we ever play Sea Portrait again? A Community Band Geek (or Community Orchestra Geek -- they are very similar but with some distinct differences that will be covered in later entries) is a stalwart person. He goes to work at the pharmacy or grocery store or law office or server room all day and then around 7pm on some weeknight shows up at the band room of some high school or college and sits down with a bunch of other middle-aged or possibly downright elderly people to play concert band music. For fun. For free. For the love of it.

You might not be the best player ever. And you might even be aware of it. You might have been stuck on second flute for 17 years as others have come in and repeatedly sat to your left. You might be good enough to play for a living, but have other things going on in your life that preclude you from doing that. You might be sitting quietly on third horn or second cornet hoping to never really be noticed. You might be sitting impatiently on third horn or second cornet waiting for the day when the band will know your brilliance. In any event, there is room for all of you in this tent.

It is here where we will ponder the mysteries of section mates who play only one dynamic level, of conductors who haven't dictated a true downbeat since 1982, of players who believe every cued note is to be played, even if the cued part is for oboe, and the cue player is a tubist, and it isn't even a cue anyway, but something to help you find your way after 72 measures of rest. We will postulate on how a bass drum player is unable play steadily on 1 and 3 (has he ever, in history, played anywhere but on 1 and 3?) and how any section other than the horn section is hopelessly lost at the prospect of playing upbeats.

We will cover the triumphs, too! The way two harried percussionists managed to cut-and-paste themselves into covering all the parts on Chorale and Shaker Dance, leaving out only the mallet parts. Or how somehow, miracle of miracles, the band actually performed Fiesta Mexicana and ended it together. Or how the conductor almost passed out at the outdoor concert, sat down on the podium, and the band finished the tune with true aplomb.

Yes. This is a place for us. And we, being who we are, have a lot of stories. Accordingly, I, being who I am, will elicit a lot of stories. Welcome.