X Is for Band

When I was in junior high, I had to pick some electives. The pickin’s were slim the first year, so I decided to try band. During tryouts, we determined that the only way I could get noise from an instrument was to smack it. If air had to be moved through the device, that was not going to produce anything vaguely musical, so I ended up in percussion. Not bad. Harder than you think, but not bad.

A few years later and 120 miles away, I managed to get to high school in one piece. The state required 2 semesters of physical ed. Because of my wonky hip joint, I got a pass for one semester of PE, but that still left the other. I had my choice of regular PE, athletics, or marching band. I hated PE because running and jumping and junk causes much pain in my hip, and I was almost as athletic as a dead 3-toed sloth, almost, so that left marching band. I joined the marching band on the condition that I would not be marching with an instrument. Say what? Yeah. See, marching with a drum meant pivoting into new directions for the formation changes, and that would cause my hip to come out of socket (ow!). Me and the drum would hit the dirt and trip up the rest of the drum line. This can mess up all those nifty formations.

Fortunately, they had a few xylophones that someone needed to play. I played one of those on the sidelines. So, X is for Band.

(c)2011 James Wang // downloaded from Flickr Creative Commons and used unchanged

(c)2011 James Wang // downloaded from Flickr Creative Commons and used unchanged

There were 3 of us xylophone players, well, 2.5 because one of them was a cymbal player who came to the sidelines to play a xylophone for a couple songs when the cymbals were unnecessary. The other full-time xylophone player was an exchange student from Thailand. As tiny as I am, she was even smaller. With some difficulty, I could carry the xylophone and its stand to the practice field and back again without help, but she could not. A few steps at a time then stop and rest a moment was the best she could do. So, I would cart my xylophone to where it needed to go then head back to help her. After the first couple iterations of that, a couple of the horn players would carry a horn in one hand and one end of the xylophone-and-stand with the other hand and helped us get the equipment where it had to go.

We traveled all over the place and competed in a few events and generally did pretty well. At the end of the semester, my PE requirements were done, so I ducked out of the band and went back to my regular life.

For next week, Y is for Michigan.


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