Shenando’s And Don’ts

, , , | Learning | August 14, 2017

(My high school advanced band is being coached before a concert at a local college. We are working on a song which we have never played in its entirety before that evening, so it kinda sucks. My section consists of me, an accomplished junior, and two seniors, neither of which like criticism or want to be there. An sfz, or sforzando, means to play as loud as possible, or as loud as the style allows, on the indicated note.)

Coach: “Okay, so on [measure], everyone with an sfz on the second beat needs to come in strong. We need to hear that color come out of the texture.”

(We play the rep. I come in on the sfz twice as loud as I need to because I know the rest of my section won’t heed the coach’s advice.)

Coach: “HORN! We are not firebombing the Shenandoah Valley, for goodness sakes! We are gazing over it, looking at the beauty… not DESTROYING IT!”

(Later, my dad, who was at the rehearsal and found this moment to be hilarious, and tries to convince me to start running.)

Dad: “Your lung capacity would be massive if you just ran a few miles each day. Just think: You wouldn’t just firebomb the Shenandoah Valley. You could nuke it.”

We Both Found What We Were Looking For

, , , , , | Hopeless | August 13, 2017

My sister and I were deeply in love with Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5 from the first time we saw them on the Ed Sullivan Show, Thanksgiving, 1969. She was six and I was nine.

Fast forward to Christmas, 1971. Our parents give us a portable record player. Our parents had a couple of Jackson 5 records and we played them over and over, ad nauseam.

In August, 1972, Michael Jackson released the album Ben. Oh, we wanted that album so badly; oh, so badly. So we started saving; all of our Sunday school money, all of our candy money, any money we found anywhere went into the Ben Bank. After about two months we had enough for the album. We hounded our mother unmercifully to please take us to the department store so that we could buy the album.

Finally, late on a Sunday, she takes us there, does her shopping, and then she leads us around to where the albums are sold. Now mind you this is a Sunday in the 1970s. All stores close at 5:00 pm and it’s 4:45. My sister is the keeper of the bank, so she is walking in front.

We walk to the counter and politely ask the young lady working there if there is a copy of Michael Jackson’s Ben. She goes and gets it. Oh, my, we are so happy, practically vibrating with excitement. The young lady is smiling, too; she can see we are so happy.

She says that will be $5.45. My sister puts the paper bag that holds all the money we saved for this album on the counter and upends it. Five dollars and fifty cents worth of dimes, nickels, and pennies roll out and we start counting. My mom walks away at that point. After about 10 minutes of us going 1,2,3,4,5, because by that time we have given her all the silver and we are into the 300 pennies that are included, the young lady just starts sweeping it off the counter and throwing them into the register.

My sister and I say, “But we didn’t count it for you.” The young lady says, “That’s okay; I can see that it’s enough.”

That happened 45 years ago and yet I can still see that young lady’s face fall as all those coins rolled across the counter. To the young lady I wish to say, “I’m so so sorry we did that to you. Thank you for being a kind soul to two little girls ten minutes before closing.”

It’s Not A Party If There’s No Banjo

, , , , | Friendly | August 12, 2017

Me: “Guess what I did last night!”

Coworker: “Partaaaay?”

Me: “What? Me? On a Friday night? Partying?”

Coworker: “No partaaay?”

Me: “No, I learned how to play the banjo.”

Composing Her Own Demise

, , , | Learning | August 10, 2017

(My music teacher has been getting lower grades than expected from her upper year students. It has triggered an inspection to see if there is an underlying cause. Because of this, she has become quite authoritarian with our freedoms, telling us off if we play anything that is not to her tastes, or show independent thought. I have been playing some of my favourite compositions in one lesson when she comes down hard on me, screaming that she will expel me from school if I don’t play the songs she wants. Being eleven at the time, I didn’t realise this isn’t a decision she can make, and fearfully submit to her demands. She selects a piece for us to all practice and demonstrate on the day of inspection.)

Inspector: *after the third pupil plays* “Is this really all you have taught your children? One composition?”

Teacher: “No! They have a lot of freedom. Even more modern and less conventional. They can play what they like! Right, kids?”

(None of us react, and she starts glaring at us one by one.)

Inspector: “It seems like you have quite a tight hold on them.”

(He asks a few questions and then asks another pupil to play.)

Inspector: “Again! Really, Mrs. [Teacher]. I’m starting to understand where this downward trend is coming from. You’ve got them wound so tightly. They need freedom! Stimulation!”

Teacher: “No, they do have freedom. How about [My Name]? He loves playing his own compositions!”

Inspector: “You’re violin? Then, please. Play something you enjoy; something you LOVE to play.”

(I don’t really understand at the time, so I just go with what the teacher selected. I look up at her to see if she is pleased, but she looks like she is about to kill me. I tense up and after only a few seconds the inspector asks me to stop. I’m crying at this point.)

Inspector: “Mrs. [Teacher], this is absolutely unacceptable. This poor boy can barely breathe, stifled in his creativity. It looks close to torture! I think we are done here.”

(He walked out. Our teacher went pale, and I thought she was going to explode, but she dismissed us early and retired to her office. That was the last I saw of her, and I’m only learning and realising now that she was dismissed for incompetence. I actually felt really guilty, knowing what hand I had to play in her dismissal. Other than that short time with the inspection, I didn’t have a single problem with her.)

Happy Day Of Birth Is The Copyright Free Version

, , | Friendly | August 2, 2017

(My friend and I are watching anime shows and tossing out silly commentary. The episode shows a scene with a birthday party, and although we’re watching the Japanese-voiced version of the show with subtitles, all the characters break out in broken English to sing the classic “Happy Birthday to You.” It should be noted that this song, until recently, has been infamously copyrighted for decades, so although it’s universally popular, every professional establishment from media to restaurants have actively avoided using it to avoid legal issues.)

Me: “Holy crap! They used the copyrighted birthday song! And I don’t know if this was before or after it went public domain! Japan is ballsy.”

Friend: “I enjoy how we live in a world where singing ‘Happy Birthday to You’ is ballsy.”

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