For reasons I still don’t understand, my band director when I was in high school in Kansas decided we needed to march. Not in straight lines during parades, mind you, but in patterns on the field during games. My response was “how about if I just shoot myself in the knee instead?”
Although I liked playing trumpet, I never liked putting on bulky leather vests–complete with dangly bits on the shoulders–and funny hats–complete with fuzzy things sticking off the top–and marching around trying to hold the trumpet out, stay in step, stay in tune, stay on the downbeat whilst trying to avoid collisions with random objects and/or people.
It was bad enough in parades but in Kansas the torture of “pattern” was added to it. Go here, turn there, pause, swing your horn (which is totally not dirty) and end in a neat little geometric pattern whilst playing your heart out. Mind you, we were no Sonic Boom of the South, but then they have talent and dedication and actually volunteered for the job.
With us, we were dragged to school early and forced to march around the parking lot in the cold. This wasn’t that hard except that, in the case of the trumpet players, we were holding large twisted bits of frozen brass and couldn’t wear gloves. (Well, we could, but then we couldn’t actually operate the large twisted bit of frozen brass.)
To make matters worse, as trumpet players we had to buzz our lips against another frozen bit of metal and try to make everything stay in tune. Basically, we ended up with numb hands and lips.
Now, as if that wasn’t bad enough, it was decreed that on the night of Homecoming, all the seniors performing in their last Homecoming would be given the “honor” of solo performances section by section. I was like, “Aww, shucks, you don’t have to do anything like that. No, really, you don’t”, but the person who made the decree was like “get out there and practice. You will be honored whether you like it or not.” (Something like that.)
This meant my friend Randy and I had to march out to the middle of the pack and perform a duet. If we had done this at the beginning, I would have been fine, but by the end of the performance I could barely feel my fingers and could barely play more than a sharp honk. Luckily, Randy was a better trumpet player and carried the performance.
I was honored when it was all over. Or maybe I mean relieved.