Saturday, October 12, 2013


I have no idea what to say tonight. How about this: the truth.

I am disappointed.

Tonight we had a football game. Normally, I love football games: getting dinner beforehand, the rush to get out the door, chilling with my section, cheering for the team, winning, putting the room back in order afterward, staying late talking to the other staff members. And the first items in that list did go as normal.

Sticking point, and I never thought I’d say this: my section.

Okay, in case you haven’t figured out, this is one of those self-centered complaining posts. So be warned.

I should make it clear that I love my section. Half my Common App essay is about how much I love the lower brass and how meaningful it has been to me to have switched in from flute. I love the sound of trombones (someone needs to do: a trombone choir rendition of “You Raise Me Up”). I’ve used the word love in every sentence of this paragraph and I didn’t even try to.

I try to keep my identity small, as Paul Graham says, but being a lower brass person has entered that sphere of my personality that makes me unreasonable: i.e. when I act as though members of my section are implicitly better than other people.

What I hate is being proved wrong.

My disappointment stems from this: some - not all - of the sophomores in my section did some extremely stupid dumb idiotic things tonight. Were I more reliant on the current memes, I would call them basic scrubs. Absolutely pointless, stupid things - I don’t need to go into specifics, the specifics are too banal. But boys in my section committed the stupidity.

What is my role, as section leader? Do I be a hardline establishment staffer and report them to the director? Do I turn a blind eye? Neither of these appeal to me - so as I usually do I consulted with my former squire (who is now a knight in her own standing; let’s call her the Teal Knight) and we decided to ask politely for them to stop.

Yeah, like that’s going to work on sophomore boys. I tried again later, after different and less stupid infractions, and in my irritation dropped some expletives. I’m still not sure if that was the best approach.

How can I play bad cop to a section I love? I find it difficult to criticize people to their faces - there’s always the unhealthy urge to apologize. But I can’t, I can’t back down because they were clearly stepping on the line, and I cannot accept that sophomores will be sophomores and act like idiots. Notably, the freshmen behaved, as did the Boy Scouts in my section.

I miss the Trombonist. We had no discipline problems last year, and I can’t help but wonder if it’s my fault for not being the leader he was, the kind who commanded respect without ever saying a word. I don’t have that kind of presence.

I find that I resent the troublemakers in my section not so much because of what they did but because of how they’ve forced me to revise one of my beliefs. Trombones are not all wonderful: trombone players can do idiotic things. I know it’s not fair of me to put them on a pedestal. I still think their behavior was stupid.

Another way I resent them: they’ve made me lose trust in my own section. Do I have to be after them the whole game, telling them to shut up, telling them not to play out of time, marking when they leave and if they come back with food or not? I don’t want to do that: we’re a section, we should be able to have fun. But I can’t trust them not to get up to crazy shenanigans when my back is turned.

What could I say to them, that would make them not do the dumb things they did? I highly doubt that they care what I think of them enough to let that stop them. Calling in the drum major or band director as a higher authority somehow doesn’t seem to me to be playing fair, given that I condone eating in the stands and other minor infractions.

The thought that they might not respect my word as section leader hurts. I say that in all seriousness: it hurts. What is the point of earning the respect of the band director and the other members of staff and advanced band if the guys below me don’t respect that authority? What is the point of leading a section you can’t trust?

It’s so late it’s early, and I am feeling heartsick over this. You think I exaggerate? No. The lower brass is like a family to me, and my brethren have sorely disappointed me.


"6 Fuss tiefer" - Oomph!

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