Monday, June 25, 2007

I was a band nerd.

Or, there is always the alternative:

I was a band geek.

Why is there such a negative label placed on students in band? Particularly when music is such a significant part of almost every one's life.

Yes, I was in the band. Starting with the fourth-grade tonette band, through two years in college. It was a lot of work, but it was an fantastic experience. It helped me develop my leadership skills: I was drum major one year. I got some of the best seats at football games. I got to travel, including an incredible trip to Venezuela. I made a lot of close friends.

I'd like to say that I am proud of the experience. But you know, it's really hard to be proud of something when the majority of references are derogatory.

* * * * *

Another favorite movie of mine is Mr. Holland's Opus. It honors not just those in band, but band directors too. (If coaches are somehow put on a pedestal, band directors are seen as the ultimate nerd.)

The man who composed the score for this movie, and particularly "An American Symphony," was Michael Kamen. Following his involvement in scoring the movie, he was a founder of the Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation which supports music education in American schools through the supply and maintenance of free musical instruments.

Long live band geeks! I believe you help make the world a better place to live.

And I'd like to offer my personal thanks to my band directors: Mr. Martinez, Mr. Atwood, Mr. Dashier and Mr. Wright

* * * * *

More than anything else, this experience -- being called a nerd or a geek for as long as I can remember -- gives me a sense what Pride Month is all about. It's the ability to say, "So what?"



Lemuel said...

Long ago I posted about my involvment in band - my experience was almost accidental. It is something about which I like to laugh, but something of which I am also proud.

I concur with your opinion of Mr. Holland's Opus. I found it most moving, but there were various parts of the story that touched on personal issues, too.

Recently our younger son donated his no longer played trumpet to a local band that provides instruments to students who cannot afford one.

somewhere joe said...

In the community in which I grew up, school life was pursued by the majority in all its variety, including band, orchestra, glee club, chorus and the numerous Beatles, Beach Boys, and Rolling Stones knock-offs. In those days, it was the contemptuous smartass kids who were the outsiders - and either ended up dropping out or quietly skulking on the periphery.

Matt said...

Fellow band geek here. And drum major. And one-time wannabe high school band director.

Great corollary at the end.

john said...

Did you ever do anything at band camp?
Sorry I couldn't help it.
I don't think you are a geek!

Ps said...

This was such a different viewpoint, to me and it made me think.I guess culturally, there is a world of difference between two people raised in two different (extremely different)corners of the world.
I would have thought that being in the band would be something to be really proud of.I just cannot understand why it is thought of as 'nerdy' or 'geek'

Paul said...

Lem: Kudos for your son. I’m sure someone is grateful for the trumpet! Hopefully they’re making beautiful music now.

s. Joe: I’m sure you growing up in a culturally rich community made a big influence on who you are now. And, I’m grateful for what you add to this world.

Matt: Welcome to the club. We should get together and reminisce. Don’t tell me that you were even in Kappa Kappa Psi.

John Michael: Yes, I did (something at band camp). Actually, a lot! Thanks for the “no geek” vote of confidence.

Ps.: Yes, there are indeed significant cultural differences around the world, and even within the US (as pointed out by s. Joe). In rural Texas where I grew up – home of “Friday Night Football” – only athletes received respect.

Kevin said...

Proudly-proclaimed band geek here. Drummer. AND Drum major.

Kevin said...

And side note: although it was always "Yay for the sports teams" at my high school, our football team was so bad that most of the spectators would leave after our halftime show.

And we knew it.

Paul said...

Kevin: GOOD for you !!!

The only place where I heard that spectators go ONLY (OK, primarily ... well, sometimes) for the band is Texas A&M. They have an incredible band.

They're all over YoeTube ... here's an example:

Darin said...

I'm a total band geek. And drum corps geek. And winter guard geek.

it's hip to be....geeky.

btw: I do take off my hat...sometimes.

Paul said...

Darin: If I could only be as geeky as you, I'd feel really cool.

When? Like maybe in the shower?

Doug said...

Chris and I love to go to the drum corp competitions. They had the finals in Orlando a few years ago. It was awesome.

Chris was also part of the LGBT band in Fort Lauderdale a couple years back. He plays the trombone, and recently started practicing the didgeridoo.

I never went to band camp, though after seeing "American Pie," I wish I had. ;)

Gawpo said...

I grew up in Joe's world. The slovenly faded while the applied flourished. Speaking of flourishes, I learned flips and turns on the B Flat cornet in high school. Prior to that, picture me the kid in the brown leather jacket in that great lineup along the wall, but I was shorter and played a silver Elkhorn trumpet. That was in the fourth grade. I love this about you, Paul.