Our daughter is in the high school marching band. Her journey there began when she was six years old when we were on vacation in Seattle. We spent a good part of one day at a place called Experience Music Project, a fantastically designed building celebrating the act of making music, specifically dedicating itself to blues and rock and roll. Lots of exhibits, but more importantly, lots of ways of making music yourself. We had a blast. Our little daughter found a love of percussion. Couldn’t get her away from the place where you could pound out a rhythm along with anyone else who chose to join you. Doing our duty as parents, we asked if she would be interested in taking drum lessons when we got back home. We weren’t really expecting a positive answer, and if we got one we were fully prepared to see this “phase” last a few months at best.
Nine years later she’s still at it. She stuck through six years of private drum lessons, played in the elementary and junior high bands, handling a variety of percussion instruments, but finally gravitated to the mallet instruments: xylophone, vibraphone and bells. She can still handle a snare, chimes, tympani, or just about any other instrument that you strike with a stick, but she has narrowed her focus and she’s getting really good at it.
Makes me smile.
Way back when I was in high school I wouldn’t have been caught dead at a football game. My attitude toward the whole affair and those who participated in it was disdainful, to say the least, and my attitude hadn’t changed much in the ensuing decades. I couldn’t see the point of the whole exercise and as a student I resented the attention the sport received in the press, the budget they commanded (when my beloved theater department had to scrounge for funds), and the adoration the players received from a majority of the student body. Especially the pretty girls.
But now, thanks to my daughter and her passion for music making, I am at least a partial convert to the addiction that is Friday Night Lights. And it isn’t because I’ve suddenly developed a passion for the game that Andy Griffith described as “some kindly of a contest where they see which bunchful of them men can take that punkin and run from one end of that cow pasture to the other without gettin’ knocked down… or steppin’ in somethin’”. Nope I came the first time just for the band (more specifically for our daughter) and I come back for her and because the entire show is just so darned much fun. Doesn’t really matter what’s happening on the field–although a good, close game has its own charms–because even during a timeout, all you have to do is look around and there is something interesting, entertaining, jaw dropping or just plain silly happening somewhere within view.
It could be the cheerleaders performing what to me seem to be death defying acts of group acrobatics. Or the kids just past the endzone running an impromptu game of their own Or the young men (I think they must be on the gymnastics team) who dress up, quite minimally, in blue shorts and blue paint, and run around with flags spelling out the name of the team, then pump out pushups totally the number of points the team has scored; or the kids in the stands texting their friends sitting two rows away; or the mom shouting herself hoarse as she implores our team to take down and punish the fellow on the other team who is gaining a few too many yards to please her. The last game we attended had some miniature versions of the blue group, trying their best to emulate the big boys and having a great time doing it.
And sometimes even the football game is exciting.
But the one sure fire entertainment winner is always the band. You want to see and hear a group that exudes fun and high spirits and dedication and good sportsmanship and wickedly funny humor? Look no further than the band. The half time show is only a part of it. What they do in the stands keeps the crowd tapping their feet, cheering and sometimes laughing. From rollicking renditions of “Timewarp” to the trumpet section shouting out commercial jingles to the band director leading the crowd in choreography to “Louie Louie”, the band is the group to watch and listen to.
But the real fun, the absolute best part of the game for me is watching my kid, all intensity and concentration as her mallets fly. I don’t care what sport brought the rest of the crowd, I’m there to watch the seed that was sewn almost a decade earlier during a trip to a music museum blossom under the Friday Night Lights.