Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Mighty Unicorn Band Reunion

Last Friday night, I went to my high school band reunion. Alumni from all 80 years of the New Braunfels High School Mighty Unicorn Band were invited to march in the halftime show of the football game and play the Fight Song and Grandioso, two staples in the Unicorn band repertoire. It was the most fun I've had in a while.  In spite of my previous misgivings, I'm so glad that I got to go. 

My sister Carrie and I drove over to the high school together and promptly got lost. There are more one-way streets than there used to be around the high school. We found the alumni group, signed in, changed into our t-shirts in my mom's car hoping no one would see (just like old times!), and joined our respective sections. Carrie headed off the flutes, while I found my friend Heather from our Pit days. I told her that she had to be my ears for the evening, and she happily obliged.  Heather has been reading my blog (Hi, Heather!), so she knows what my listening situation currently is, and she was a lifesaver.

Once all of the alumni had been signed in, it was time to head out to the blacktop to learn our spots for the halftime show.  So Heather and I grabbed our cymbals and found out that we would be standing in the front of the whole band on the 50-yard line.  Awesome! Everyone found their spots on the field.  Then they rehearsed the first song, Grandioso. It was at this point that I noticed that my hearing aid was shorting out, leaving me with only the impressions of sound coming through my implanted ear. Extra awesome! Because who doesn't want to stand on the 50-yard line crashing cymbals visibly out of time because they can't hear the rest of the band?  After our first run through, Heather looked over at me and laughed, "You're so off!"  Very helpful.  Then we ran through the NBHS Fight Song, which has a much stronger drum beat, so I could at least crash my cymbals in time with the drums. 

After practice, there was a tailgate party where we could chat with other alums. I looked really hard to find someone else from the class of 1997, but I found only one person that I had barely known in high school.  (So, if anyone from the class of 1997 is reading this, I'm disappointed in you.)  But I did find a few other friends.

Carmen, Heather, Me, and Alice
Next up, we marched over to Unicorn Stadium with the current NBHS band. They have an awesome group of kids in the band right now.  Everyone was so welcoming to us old-timers. I haven't been in Unicorn Stadium in 15 years, so marching back in brought back a lot of happy memories. I loved seeing the hometown crowd in the stands already. There really is nothing quite like a Friday night high school football game in small-town Texas!

The halftime show was great. The current band's show is so impressive.  Their cymbals players were running on the field, crashing cymbals in time with the music!  Running!  All we alumni had to do was march front and back in a straight line. There were no disasters from what I could tell. My hearing aid mostly cooperated, and the cymbal part finally came back to me so I could play effortlessly. My mom sneaked down onto the track and made this great video of me and Heather playing our cymbals.

I especially loved seeing my old band directors.  Mr. Zientek (middle right) was the first band director I ever had, the one who assigned me to play clarinet. To his credit, he recognized me, though I imagine that I look a little different from 6th grade.  Ms. Bronk (middle left) was my head director in high school. Boy, did that lady ever have my back.  I don't remember her ever getting mad at me, even if I played wrong notes or seemed not to be paying terribly close attention to what was going on. Ms. Townsend (middle) was the drum instructor who taught me how to play keyboards with mallets. All are old friends that I was delighted to see again.

In this blog, I keep talking about neural networks of sound.  One of the things that I was worried about was how the music would sound.  It had been 15 years since I'd played either of the songs.  However, I was surprised at how quickly the parts came back to me. I'd played both songs so many times over the years that they were etched deeply into place. There are just some things that this old brain won't forget. And that is encouraging to me as I'm trying to learn how to use this new ear of mine.

No comments:

Post a Comment