Written as a present for my Band Buddy, here is chapter one of Part of the Pride, enjoy!
Part of the Pride
The chronicles of a freshman flute player in the Pride of Owasso High School Marching Band. Told totally unscripted and totally unedited, it is about all the joys, heartbreaks, and laughs shared when you become part of our family and embrace marching music in its purest form . Warning: we are not responsible if your Flute Section gets randomly attacked by pirates (like we did) or for your Horn line thinking they can all be amazing Drum Majors just cause.
The First Day of Pre-Band
We, being the Freshman class of the 2007 Marching season, walked out onto the field with anxiety. We had heard the horror stories of pre-band, how people were hospitalized, how the marching instructor hated Freshmen, how the Seniors fed off of the fears of Freshmen. How unlucky are we, we thought, to be the source of so much hatred. I was standing in my section, seven Freshmen and one rookie Sophomore.
Our squad leader was Melinda, my band buddy. A short but very pretty Senior picollo, Melinda was definately someone to look up to. She was an excellent marcher, player and was funny, smart and a great leader. I was proud standing next to her, being her band buddy. I felt so special. We stared at her in awe as she stared back at us. She explained we would start some marching basics the first day for a little while with the dreaded marching instructor and then break up into squads for more instruction. There would be a competition at the end of the second week for the squads. My friend Corie Jo and I looked at each other, like the bloodthirsty competitors we were, and smiled. "CHHHHIIIIIRRRPPPURPPP!" Everyone but Melinda gave a start, immediately looking around for the source of the noise.
"Go on." She said motioning for us to take the field. The field, of course, being a parking lot outside the actually football field. It had the yard line numbers and those weird hash mark thingies that we were taught some thousand years ago. The noise broke the scuffle of sneakered feet again and we saw it was coming from a handsome older boy with an intense disciplined gaze. He did not smile as he put on dark sunglasses an crossed his arms. He was an intimidating sight, even without trying, wearing a plain white T-shirt, dark shorts, and sneakers like the rest of the band, with the silver whistle hanging loosely around his neck. Next to him, stood a pretty older girl with the same look about her. But she smiled when she saw the scared Freshmen get into the warm up block, especially at the flute section. She too wore similar cloths, but with star patterned shorts and no sunglasses. I looked at Melinda, who got into the block next to me, and felt a tiny bit of confidence grow inside me. The older boy and girl stood off the front sidelines in the shaded bit and watched as a old man ran out onto the field. I was curious as to who they were, but knew enough not to speak in a practice, so I was thankful when Melinda whispered, "Drum majors." I had no idea what it meant at the time, but I assumed that made them minor gods or something. The marching instructor, Mr. Taylor, we had met earlier in a marching clinic in May, but we hadn't gotten the chance to know him. He seemed nice enough as we went through the basics we had learned when we had done our first parade. He smiled at us all, commending the seniors who had also come to the hour early freshmen practice. Then, we broke up into squads. I followed on Melinda's keels as she led our little group to the far end of the parking lot away from everyone else. "Ben!" She hollered. We watched as another handsome looking senior showed up at her side.
"What is with these seniors. Are they all like, models or something?" Kristen mumbled next to me.
"Guys." Melinda started, clearly ignoring Ben's smile at the model comment. "This is Ben Kozma. He will be your other squad leader. Ben gave a little wave. It was the one and only Ben that we had heard so much about. Amazing marcher, amazing clarinet player and amazing baseball player, state champion baseball player. That Ben Kozma.
"Oh." We all said in unison. Ben grinned. We went through some more basics as the upper classmen began to arrive. A senior girl yelled for Melinda, so she dismissed us for water. We all sped away for a water break, carefully avoiding the upperclassmen we didn't know. Corie Jo and I found our favorite sophomore, Kristi, on the outer edge of the cluster of upperclassmen. She was wearing sunglasses and had her huge three gallon water bottle in addition to her giant red camelback almost identical to mine. I grabbed my water bottle and chugged it for all it was worth, panting from our efforts.
"Good morning, my freshmen! Ready for some real fun?!" She grinned evilly. I gulped and assumed the look that would become known as the scared freshman. She smiled. "Just kidding. Calm down, Amanda." My fingers twitched nervously, anxious to have my flute with me instead of having it sit uselessly inside.
"…three more hours." Corie Jo said painfully. We winced as we heard the Drum Major's whistle. Kristi threw her bottle down.
"Let's get at it!" She said encouragingly.
We limped painfully to the shade under the bleachers, completely soaked in sweat. Kristi grabbed her purse and began spraying herself up and down with perfume.
"Yuck." She exclaimed, peeling at her t-shirt.
"I can't feel my legs."
"Shut up, Kristi."
"Stupid Freshman." Kristi had told as before we started she was so happy not to be a Freshman anymore and would delight in calling us stupid Freshman when she pleased. Corie Jo glared at her as we made our way to the Performing Arts Center. We were told we would have music sectionals, a break for lunch, more sectionals and then meet in the Multi-purpose building for final full band rehearsal. We couldn't use our beloved band room because the construction workers said it was too unsafe. We would be getting a brand new Band Room with all the trimmings by the time we were Sophomores. The Seniors were less than pleased. We grabbed our stuff out of the hotter-than-heck Multi purpose, and the headed back to the High School PAC. Kristi hummed the 2006 show the entire time, until, finally we made it to the shade or the PAC stage and set up in the pitch blackness.
"Why is it so dark in here?" I exclaimed as Kristi tripped on the steps up to the stage.
"How the heck should I know?"
"Ouch, my head!" Wailed a voice.
"Think of it as an improvement." Said another voice calmly.
"Whoa, who's touching my butt!" Shrieked a girl.
"Wish I could say me." Said a deep voice of a senior.
"Perv, I'm gonna kill you!"
"Okay, let's find a light switch, maybe?" Said an annoyed voice.
"But it's fun groping around in the dark!" Someone commented sarcastically.
"Ha, that's what she said!"
Several nose of disgusts along with a couple of messy high fives were heard until, amazingly, the stage was bathed in a brilliant white light.
"Ah, the light, it burns!" Cried an older flute player falling back into her chair. Mr. O'Kelly walked onto the stage and began to supervise as we set up chairs. Corie Jo and I chose sets wisely. We didn't want to seem cocky and sit in the front row with the seniors, but we didn't want to seem uneager and sit in the back row with the underachievers. So we chose seats on either side of Kristi in the middle of the second row. I gingerly took my flute, Aaron out of his nice green case with the special shoulder strap. I touched his "battle scar" from the time he got into a fight with the music stand back on my first week of playing. (The stand won, by the way.) I would have had him for five years come September as I was a transplant band member and moved in the middle of their beginner band.
But Owasso, being one of the Nationally ranked bands in America, whipped me into shape faster than you would believe. I was dreadful at the flute until All-Region tryouts for All-Region band .I was being incredibly loud during results and Mr. O'Kelly yelled at me for it. Nothing incredibly major, but from then on, I vowed to be the best I could be. I went from 6th band in band camp the previous year to first, the top band, beating out freshmen for my spot. But the next year, I only made alternate to All-Region due to a crappy private lessons teacher and lost my first chair position in concert band, never regaining it. I was so depressed for half that year, until I got my brand new concert flute, Jonathan. Still, I knew Mr. O'Kelly was disappointed Corie Jo, who also got first chair back from me, made it and I didn't. Disappointed with me, that is. Before we started Pre-Band, I made a vow to get a spot in the Competition band and never have Mr. O'Kelly be disappointed in me ever again. It sucks to have your favorite director disappointed with you, even worse than having them mad at you. As I though of all this, Mr. O'Kelly had eagerly jumped to the front of his 2007 woodwind section.
"Ready guys?" The saxophones behind us hurriedly shoved reeds into their mouthpieces as Mr. O'Kelly started the rest of the band in the F major scale. I could hear tons of flutes; it was so different from the four I was used to. My section looked big too, with about twenty-four flutes. "Cool." I thought to myself. After the warm-up, Mr. O'Kelly said pass offs for the school song would be today, tomorrow and the next day at the latest. Kristi nodded and got up to pass off for our other woodwind director, Mr. Workman. Corie looked at me. I shook my head no. Maybe tomorrow. For the rest of us, he fumbled with his music for several long seconds.
"Uh…let's take a look at Part One." The senior flutes grinned to each other and got out their music. I did too, worried about my playing. The music was just so hard! Especially when I had barely had time to practice. But Mr. O'Kelly started it anyway. I watched as he tried to get the tempo right. Below him, in the audience, I saw a younger looking Drum Major, rush through the seats in the audience. He was carrying a huge stack of music and also had a tiny silver whistle around his neck.
"Alright, let's go!" Mr. O'Kelly smiled. Here go's nothing…
"It's really hard music." I said doubtfully. Kristi shook her head.
"Nah, you'll pick it up in no time. It's really easy." She said waving over Dillon, her boyfriend of almost a year.
"Hey Satan." Dillon nodded at his nickname.
"Hey Amanda, how's O'Kelly."
"Fine, how's Mrs. Gorham treating you guys." He grinned his cockily.
"Ah, she's as angry as ever. Not at me though." I smiled. You can make the eighth grader a Freshmen, but he'll still be as cocky as ever. Kristi wrapped her hand over his mouth as he tried to tell the group a good way for her to 'loosen up'. "Just saying!" Came his muffled cry. Corie jo kicked him in the shin. I looked around for Colton or Cody or someone, wondering if they were coming.
"Right, let's go." Kristi said as Cody ran over to join the group.
"Hey, guess who already got some laps."
"It better not be you Cody." Kristi threatened. Cody shook his head no.
"No, I had to put up mine baritone. By the way, Dillon. Where did you put yours? Uh…anyway yeah. A couple of Freshmen said something stupid about a senior in the clarinet section and she made them run laps.
"Ah-ha! Serves them right!" Kristi exclaimed.
"What did they say?" Corie Jo asked curiously.
"Dunno, but it must've been bad, cause they are still running!" We crossed the street at this point to Season's Express, local Chinese food grease trap. Everyone ordered their food and we snagged a table in the center of the little room. Dillon told Cody to keep his mouthpiece to himself. Kristi and her Sophomore Trombone friend speculated about the younger Drum Major I had seen in rehearsal, Wes.
"He's a Junior." Kristi told me when I asked.
"Really? I thought you had to be a Senior." the trombone., Andrea, shook he head.
"Nope. You just have to be good. Besides, we've had tons of Drum Major's that were juniors. He'll be head next year, seeing as the other three are all Seniors."
"There's three now!" Corie Jo exclaimed, remembering the two we'd seen that morning.
"Uh, yeah." She said, worried by her excitement. Then, we got the food. Cody almost chocked on a fork in his food. We never did find out how it got there. And we got excited because the sunglasses they had on the signs for Summer Specials were red, just like our marching show, Red Shades. I shuddered when it was mentioned, still nervous about memorizing three pages of music.
After a quick lunch we raced back to the Multi-purpose. We lounged in front of the huge box fan and played cards. Kristi sayed it was a thing to do between sectionals and rehursals. We nodded in understanding, still a little tired from our morning rehursal outside. We watched the band directors in the cornor of the room in the make-shift band office, which is normally a room dividing the big and small bandroom. Now, it was two big desks pushed together where our hard working secretary, Mrs. Majestic was ruffling up papers and conversing with Band directors. Mr. O'Kelly was showing off the multi-colored lensed sunglasses he got during concert-contest season last year. No kidding, he bought them for our round of concert band contest and wore them with his tux that day. Dillon, the twins, and Cody loved them.
Finally, we headed back to the PAC. Of course, that was well before Mr. O'Kelly left, because Dillon tends to talk to him like they're best friends, Mr. O"Kelly in only in his late twenties after all. Kristi yelled at him to stay with her. She's not an idiot after all. We did get there eventually. But when we walked in, all the Seniors in my section had returned having taken showers, changed into nicer cloths and had on flip-flops. I was still a little shy about talking to them, even Melinda, even though she was so nice to me on the field. She smiled at me when I walked on the stage and I smiled back. The girl that had called after her that morning smiled at me too. Ben, who was sitting in the first row too, arrived in practice shorts again. Kristi said it was because Ben wanted to be back on the field again. I thought he was nuts. That afternoon was full of practicing the March we had to have memorized for the first half-time show. It was called "March Grandioso" and it was about as happy as marches get. Kristi complained that it was annoying. I played her "favorite" part of it over and over again for her enjoyment after we were dismissed to the Muti-purpose.
"Freshman, noooooo! Bad! Stop!" She howled holding her ears. We walked into the Multi-purpose to the music ot the Pit. We got into horn archs with our section.
"Lucky Pit and Drumline." Commented the Senior that stood next to me.
"Why?" I asked before I could stop myself.
"They already know who's in what in Comp Band. We have to wait until school starts." She said watching the Drumline spead out behind the tubas. Colton waved at me from his section, hitting Ryan, another freshman tuba, in the face ith his mouthpeice. I shook my head. I turned around and looked to see a platform in the middle of the pit. The boy Drum Major from that morning was standing on the platform and staring at the ground. His hands were moving around in a flurry.
"Oh! Drum Major's conduct, don't they!" I announced stupidly. Kristi laughed at me, shaking her head at me. I grew red in the face as Drum Major raised his hands.
"Set!" Cried Ben from way down the line with his clarinets.
"Mark-time." Kristi hissed as Drum Major started "dutting" out the beats. I kept getting off beat, moving my feet outrageously out of time. I could wrap my head around it yet. Finally, we made it through the warm up and the director with the microphone told us to start Grandioso. Drum Major strated dutting again and this time my flute was up before he was ready. We started incredibly loud, ready to prove ourselves. The director shook his head and Drum Major cut off.
"First off, try WATCHING the Drum Major and what is the dynamic marking. Ah, state champion Ben, what is the dynamic marking at measure number five?" Asked Mr. Harris, appearing from behind the horns.
"Piano!" Hollered Ben.
"That's right. Play it at piano and watch the Drum Major. He won't be wrong." Drum Major smiled slightly. This time, we were much better, but had to restart because we never got louder. I couldn't keep my feet in time with anyone eles and was playing the few notes I could play pitifully. I looked for a Senior or someone to look off of, but there were none in front of me. And then it started to get hot. People were ashing to get their water bottles and draining them as soon as Drum Major cut off. The Seniors, however, were calm, collected, and their make-up still looked great.Melinda was standing next to Ben and talking. She had what we would later deem the Senior glow, which is a glow of awesome succescess each Senior gets when they reach the level of Senior in the band. You could tell who was a Senior and who wasn't, even that first day. Drum Major Had it, Ben had it, Melinda had it. The Freshman had about the opposite of that, which was a look of fear about them. We finished Grandioso and Mr. Harris handed over the Mic to Mr. Gorham.
"Congratulations, you have finished you first day of Pre-Band." The Freshman screamed joy at this. Mr Gorham got serious. "You've got about seventeen more to go though." Ben grinned. Melinda and the Senior flutes smiled. Drum Major nodded. Kristi's eye twitched a little. Corie Jo looked at me in disgust, groaning in pain. I sighed, pulling at my wet t-shirt. This was going to be a long seventeen days.
Lots o' hugs from, Amanda.
Writers, a lot like Seniors feed off the fears of freshmam, feed off reviews. SO WRITE ONE! Do it for the starving writers!