(Everyone I know who ever played the flute, including myself, hates the movie I referenced in my title).
Well, today was your average day at work for me. I worked, went to lunch at Quizno’s with Danetra (yay for having a buy one get one free coupon so that we could eat upscale fast food and not have to sell a kidney), went to B&N to meet a friend’s boyfriend, and went to the gym for Zumba and Ab Blast after work. As usual for Amy Lauren. Then, when I left the gym, I headed to Super Wal-Mart to stop by McDonalds for a McCafe (to negate Zumba and Ab Blast) and pick up some breakfast foods for next week.
I passed by West Florence High School, as I pass by it almost daily going to that McDonald’s inside the Wal-Mart, but today I actually looked over toward the school and saw them, their marching band. Everyone was outside in the heat of summer learning drill, colorguard routines, music, etc. Then, my mind took me back.
Back in the day, meaning 1998-2001, I was in marching band at Johnsonville High School. I played flute for my first year and then switched over to piccolo for the last three. I was never a very good musician, but I still fit in when I was in the band. Sometimes I stuck out like a sore thumb, and not just because the only way to tune two piccolos is to shoot one, but I still fit in, in my own little place. Band was the only place where anyone could fit in- you didn’t have to really be good, you just had to have a good attitude- and, for a lot of people, having a good attitude in the 100 degree weather was harder than being a good musician. You didn’t have to ‘make’ the marching band or earn your place- heck, sometimes you could even create your own place. One year we had a guy who was never in band before, but he helped out with equipment. If you wanted to be involved, you could.
A lot of that philosophy probably had to do with the fact that my high school had less than 400 people and we marched 8th grade (and some 7th graders) and up. Despite the small numbers and having to ‘take who we could get’, we were a pretty good band. We made state finals 3 of the 4 years I marched, with us placing 8th in 2000. We had a good sound, good band director, and good people. You’ll never find a better bunch of people than a bunch of band geeks- despite the ongoing flute jokes, which were usually rebuked with “brasshole!” jokes.
I had some good times in band, but I also had my share of tough times. Band was tough for me, because I really wasn’t that great when I started. I had to work my little butt off- and yeah, I was one of the tinest kids out there. I stuck with it, and it taught me perseverance. It taught me NEVER to give up and NEVER to back down. I went from being the kid who could never stay in step in 8th grade, to making district band in 10th and 11th grades. I even won a few medals- 10th grade really seemed to be my year though, with coming in 8th at state, winning two superior ratings at Solo and Ensemble, and making 10th chair in the Eastern District Honor Band.
The summer before senior year, I started working, and we got a new band director. I didn’t think I could swing senior year with college classes, honors high school classes, and working, so I packed my flute away. I still supported all my band friends though, and I missed band every Friday night when I worked at the grocery store. It always felt like I was supposed to be out their on the field, staring at the bright lights and projecting the sound from my piccolo. There was nothing like the feeling I got under those lights performing.
Now, it’s 8 years later. It’s been around 7 years since I’ve picked up a flute. The only thing left of my high school’s marching band is a sign that the principal of my alma mater bought us during my 9th grade year, a remnant of good times and sweet memories. Sure, it hurts that the school no longer has a band, but even that has taught me that everything as has a season and a time in God’s eyes. I’ll probably never pick up a flute again and (seriously) play, and I will never again lace up another pair of marching shoes, but I’ll never forget the four years that taught me so much dedication, leadership, and perserverance. The four years I spent as a part of the Johnsonville High School Marching Band.