Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Band Camp Redux

On Monday, I went to band camp. I had a trombone (named Angelique) to return, and decided I might as well stay.

I rather liked the hero's welcome I got from my favorite underclassmen (who are now upperclassmen. Whoa), all the hugs and exclamations.

The amount of respect I got from the sophomores touched me. Then again, they only ever saw me as a senior, at the top of my game. I wonder if it says something about me, that I can form friendships so easily with people who sit lower than me. At worst--I'm dysfunctional around equals. At best--I'll make a good leader in the future.

It was strange, sitting down in the trombone section with the tubas and euphs behind me. It was strange, not running about and fetching folders and getting lists.

Impressions of the new trombones: sports-mad, impressed with themselves. One is a football player bro-type. But I can't expect better from fourteen-year-old boys, and--well, they're trombone players. Being in band and especially with Princess Fire Marshal as their section leader, they'll shape up. Talked more with the sophomore trombone kid who plays the class clown role but is really a decent kid.

Thoughts while playing: huh, this part is more different from the euphonium part than I remember. Sight read, come on, don't just play the euph part from memory! Ooh, new songs. What are rhythms? Oh, yeah, those are rhythms. Why is my lip blowing out this early? Oh, good, it's back. Strident isn't good but I kind of like that harsh edge on powerful high notes. Don't turn around and chat with the Teal Knight all the time, you don't want her getting yelled at.

That moment when people discover that you're going to Stanford and look at you like you're something even though you're going through a minor existential crisis about how you will be below average for the next four years and have mostly reconciled yourself to that, though how can you know until you've been tested?

Resisting the urge to ask the seniors about college apps. They're getting that from everyone else, they don't need it from you.

Marching: oh, man, I can't believe that I missed this--the precision of the steps, the discipline of it. But I did. And the band doesn't do so well at first but soon everyone's remembering the rules. Strong showing from the sophomores; juniors, not so much, but then again the band staff juniors are off helping the band director teach the freshmen, and they are nothing if not solid.

I felt like a right fool when I called one sophomore sax guy by the other sophomore sax guy's name. Prefaced my apology with a curse to show my contrition. Note: if you typically do not swear, then people will take you more seriously when you do. A tool that gains in power the more it is withheld.

Worrying about taking authority from the current captains, but with such a large group--good, good turnout this year--to handle, I don't think they mind a little help. Band matters a whole lot to me. Someone could call me pathetic, accuse me of clinging to my domain of strength from high school because of my existential college-induced fears. Honestly? I don't know that that is not part of my reasons for going back yesterday.

Still, when I think of how much band has given me, I think that the stronger motive is that I want to help out. (Of course, I could have pathetic psychological reasons for wanting to help people also.) Captaining a team is damned hard--I should know--and I want them all to do well. I have two years of band staff experience, which could be helpful to my people. What good is expertise unshared?

I completely, 100% called and approve of my co-captain from last year (and current band president)'s first draft pick. You want someone solid, dependable, with whom you work well.

My Stanford Tuba Brother also showed up, and we shared our existential troubles. I'm not going to lie, I do like being at the top, and in high school and in band especially, that's where I was last year. It'll be interesting this year, in a month and a half, when I get thrown into a school full of people who are smarter than me.

I remember freshman year band camp: being terrified, being shy, wanting to become an uber-flute, wanting the upperclassmen to think I was cool, being confused. Hewing to band as a part of my identity, as the thing that made me more than one more anonymous little Asian girl in the crowd.

I am eternally grateful to that miserable fourteen-year-old girl. But I rather hope that I do better this coming year than I did 2010-2011.

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