I could only offer the nod a sage would give as the sounds from my old high school band room caught my hear. There were the rich tones from the low brass and the rings from the woodwinds, including my section, the B flat clarinets. In that moment, what I also recalled were the voices from past directors as they made their attempts to round the wind instruments’ deliverance. Therefore, what I witnessed was not a mere nostalgic smothering, but a type of understanding met my mind as I finally was able to grasp what directors had been trying to pull out of their band members, myself included.
I received lessons as I played the B flat clarinet beginning in middle school and stuck with the instrument throughout high school. My playing instruction was heightened with participation in various bands: concert bands, District Honor Band one year, and sporting event performances. However, I believe that being in the marching band in high school awarded me the most fulfilling experiences. The band members traveled together, shared the 3rd lunch period, and rehearsed under a blazing sun for hours before the fall football season was underway; one could label it as a community detached from the rest of the school. I had the added privilege of competing against other bands on fields in other regions as well, which gave me a lesson or two about disciple. Inside of the band room, it was not hard to miss the drive of the directors to guide the band to achieving a wholesome sound upon executing dynamics or harmonies.
The fine blend of instruments that caught my ear a few weeks ago instantly reminded me of all those times. Like the other aspects of life that reach clarity with the years, this observation served as one. I suppose having some years paved between being a high school-er allowed me to come to the awareness of how a band was meant to relay its form. It is more than just assuming a form will be properly done without effort; members have the obligation to be conscious of what is being blown out of their instruments because that is what can be heard once everything is woven together as the final product-staying in tune, executing complex rhythms, balance with the percussion. I was a decent player and was a little mindful, but those aspects were not instant priorities.
This reflection feels a bit awkward to me since I haven’t picked up my clarinet in years, and I’m not trying to be an “armchair critic”. It’s just accepting that one’s young years have a tendency escape the actual factors that are more necessary than belonging to an organization that has fun playing at football games. It’s about understanding that intricacies are vital in music, even if it feels as though it can be brushed alongside the grass. Now, I’m seriously considering picking up where my old band shoes left off and continuing the musical fulfillment of practicing the clarinet. The only difference is that I’ll be exercising a sharper ear.