Last night, the director kept stopping us in that annoying way that band leaders have.
“We’ve got to get those triplets sharp. Some of you are thinking you can just slip through them at a relaxed pace and it’s throwing us off,” he said.
“I am not in a parade up here waving at you like a princess from a float.” Here he wiggled his fingers at us like he does when he needs the whole note people to shush so the melody people with their quieter instruments could get heard.
And then he would have us practice. Again. Start at measure forty seven. Again.
We didn’t always get it exactly right. But he made us repeat until it was at least better. After three or four or more times, we got a little more together or the parts balanced each other out. If we remember to do it that way on concert day, it will be a lovely small miracle.
The band isn’t the only place where we humans in community need to be in sync or to quiet down so others can be heard.
I just got off of teaching our last quarter this August 17th. This summer more than any before it, I felt the distinct pain of working through the time when other teachers are off. I have never had three whole months like many teachers get, but our college used to line up better with the K12 rhythm when we finished at the end of July.
I am not complaining, exactly. I adore my time off and there are even benefits to getting out so late. I will have time to help my kids get going in their own schools. I get to enjoy fall in ways that many others might not with day trips to the mountain while others are gearing up for their new school year.
But I feel apart. Separate. A little like I am playing triplets that don’t match the ones played in the next section. Or worse. Like that one instrument that comes in during the measure when the whole band has a rest.
This asynchronous rest of mine has taught me something. It matters when I am together with the group. There is a power in the rhythm of habits for writing and music practice that gets even stronger when others work along with me.
I am not going to whine about it (much more). Instead, I am going to remember that lesson the next time I am in charge of my own schedule.
May you find joy in the rhythms of your community-
P.S. We’ll be playing at the Showplace Stage near the Blue Gate on Thursday, September 8th and Monday, September 19th from 7:00-7:30 . Come by if you’d like to hear whether we remember what the director said.
We’ll play Hogan’s Heroes, The King and I, and the Pink Panther along with a few others.
Finally, for just a little extra, here’s one of my all time favorites on rhythm and what it’s like to align with an even greater song.