MacArthur Band hosts an annual event which consists of popular show-tunes and eye-catching choreography. This 2010-2011 season, I had the pleasure of performing in G-Force. Unfortunately for myself, this show is prepared with a lot of practice. On top of the daily two to three hour rehearsals, it seems as if projects, labs, and major tests have found their way onto my “To Do” list. However, a strong band family and the remedy of laughter helped me embark on the journey of wonderful music and completion of stress-making tasks.
Day One: The Separation of Chaos
About two minutes after the final bell, the Fine Arts building was already swarming with bubbly musicians and band groupies. I found it almost impossible to swindle myself through the large crowd of teenagers who seemed to be set on standing in the middle of the hallway as an obstacle for impatient beings like me. After shoving a few people, stepping on numerous toes, and flinging myself in through the doorway, I finally entered the band hall.
All the band cliques huddled to their corners to talk about finals or “explosive trombones,” while various instruments blared melodies. My mind spun from the disorganization of students and instrument cases until I realized that I made it all the way to the auditorium, clarinet in hand. Rambunctious kids squirmed all over the auditorium, speaking too loudly and expressing violent acts towards one another.
Unexpectedly, the room fell silent. The band directors gave us a few moments to warm our lips and arms up, then assemble ourselves into chronological order for G-Force. Spot light burning embarrassment onto my blushing cheeks; my portion of the band performed sections of our first movement song, only to be forced to perform it two or three times again. The rest of rehearsal consisted of confusing faces, lost rhythms, and consistent redirection. My only thought for that performance was, “Oh gosh…I really hope we do better tomorrow.”
Day Two: Music Gone Chaotic Part Two
Oh no, G-Force rehearsal…I thought ominously as I once again forced my way through the musical crowd. Being the second day of practice, we rehearsed the next half of the show. Thankfully, things were running a lot smoother than the day before.
“Get in your lines, stage right,” requested Mr. Robert Cameron, Assistant Band Director. De ja vu, my body unknowingly made its way to a dark, jam-packed corner as it has many times before. I stared at the remaining members of the band in their theatrical thrones from behind the curtains, envious of their musical talents and freedom to watch a performance sure to crash and burn. Something in the pit of my stomach told me that today just wasn’t the day for Concert Band.
Beginning our performance of “Birdland,” my eyes set themselves upon the band directors’ reactions; shrieking body language, tilting heads, and astonished facial expressions. Standing in set with lights blaring down on me, the crowd winced. What an awful performance.
“Okay, if that’s your best performance, then Birdland will have to be cut from G-Force,” Mr. Brent Johnson, Band Director, said. Sighs from the current band on stage erupted in the auditorium, and the other bands giggled with humility. We failed…miserably. Concert band subjected themselves to an hour of practice in the band hall, while everyone else continued with G-Force rehearsal. What an embarrassment to music with only two days until the actual performance. Oh, how I wished that the final day of rehearsal will shape itself up.
Day Three: Final Rehearsal Day
My pride was restored during warm-up as I marched on stage with “Birdland” cascading across the auditorium walls. With this being the final rehearsal day, Concert Band brought it while pouring hard work into the musical sinews. On the other hand, only the tech crew and directors sat in the audience. Well, at least the “big” people know I can play well, I thought to myself as I stepped off stage for the next scene.
The entire band started dress rehearsal, running like chickens with their heads cut off in attempts of acquiring all the correct pieces to our uniforms. Jacket…check…bibber…check…black shoes, black socks…double check…new G-force shirt…EW!
Dress rehearsal began with a silly skit and drama behind the curtains, until Honors band started the show with “Forget You.” C0ncert Band sang the lyrics to ourselves, swaying back and forth. Seriously, I can’t even move, much less sway! Not only from myself, but other cranky musicians shot annoyed looks at the kids who decided to sardine themselves onto everyone else. I could not wait until it was our turn to step onstage.
Our performance rolled smooth; “Car Wash” had always been our most well-prepared piece. It wasn’t until I had to play “Birdland” again after Honors Band’s performance of “Fiddler on the Roof.” Oh. My. Gosh. SHOOT ME NOW!
All the work that Concert Band put into perfecting “Birdland” would be nothing after Honors’ performed. They were amazing; one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen! It’s as if the music they were playing filled my soul and took my heart for a swift swing of rhythm. Honors Band played with their lives dancing on the staccato beats, wrapped around the legato tones with a firey passion. How on Earth did the directors expect concert band to come after that….
Well, there goes the pride…All the excitement, all the happiness of performing drained from my body as I stepped on stage once again. Sure, we played with all we had, but I just can’t fathom how amazing Honors Band was. We’ll do better tomorrow…G-Force for real…
Day Four: G-FORCE! Opening Night, that is.
Antsy teenagers filled the band hall with stories of their day and melodious words that clung to one’s ears. We had approximately an hour and a half until free dinner was to be served in the cafeteria by the band mothers. Who knew an hour was soo long?!
Band kids took over CVS in attempts of passing the time hastily, but every activity seemed to fail. After every two minutes, I seemed to find myself dripping with Arizona Tea from outbursts of my own laughter. Friends of friends told stories of awkward moments and hysterical periods in their lives that turned my face blue from lack of oxygen. Remembering how hungry I was, I realized that almost the entire band had migrated to the cafeteria. Thank goodness for band moms!
That dinner line was ridiculous! Notice how I bolded that; I mean ridiculous. Feeding a crowd of starving teens is almost as hazardous as the wait in line to be fed. For 30 minutes, I sat on a table in the ferociously long line until I was finally able to receive my sub-sandwich. By this time, we had ten minutes to eat before we were expected to be fully uniformed and ready.
DOORS ARE NOW OPENED!
Here I was, staring blankly into the foggy, pitch black audience from behind the curtains. I sang again to “Forget You,” laughing quietly to myself. Our time to shine. Five. Six. A five, six, seven, eight. And so, we began. The crowd danced along to “Car Wash” in the spirit of our own great dance moves, courtesy of Mr. Croomes. Concert Band, you performed great; wonderful, fantastic, enthusiasm at best.
Backstage was wondrous. With internet connections, the projector screen displayed the ongoing acts in the works, and our little band community huddled ourselves in semi-concert arcs to watch the others perform. I looked around with everyone in their own little groups playing Ninja or singing along to an acoustic guitar when I realized, this is what band is all about; this is why I love music. Music brings people together, I thought to myself, smiling from ear to ear….but the most amazing feeling of the night was the applause.
When Concert Band finished our last song, shouts of honor sounded loudly like thunder in a storm. The band had done it’s best and will do it’s best for the next two days. Our hearts filled with love and our souls filled with rhythm.
Day Five: G-Force Day Two
Time passed much faster than the day before as band kids went their separate ways. I found myself sitting in Caracheo’s resteraunt for an hour with my best friend Sarah, watching the clock tick so slowly. Within the blink of an eye, it was already time to get dressed and put our intruments together. The band hall once again sheltered hundreds of kids who stored away their Sonic drinks and goodies.
The schedule ran smoother with it being the second performance. It felt almost like deja vu as the percussion situated everyone into correct positions and such. However, this performance harboured most band parents. For some reason, the majority of the parents think that the second day of performance is the “best.”
You could feel the excitement in the air, almost as if the very air you took in held anxiety in its midst. Students smiled into the audience, fighting the darkness of the auditorium to find their parents. I’ve learned that playing a clarinet covered in glow sticks and searching for your parents while dancing in unison is almost impossible. I tripped, but caught myself before anyone else could notice….squeeeeak! Oh great. Then, a ripple of squeaks from various instruments errupted. I desperately hope that it wasn’t as bad as it sounded, but I’m sure it was.
As the curtains closed on the final act, band swarmed into the auditorium seating, finding their parents and introducing friends. I had the honor of introducing my band banquet date Arturo to my father. That’s always a joy.
Within everyone’s little groups, several dinner plans were made. For Arturo’s and Frank from Color Guard’s birthdays, our groups headed to Red Lobster for a wonderful birthday bash. That night, the majority of band kids uploaded absolutely unique pictures to Facebook of their night after G-Force. It seems as if band kids took over the night life of San Antonio resteraunts.
Day Six: Last Day of G-Force
The last day of G-Force felt as if the world was going to end, but not because it was supposably the day of the Rapture. G-Force had to be amazing today; it had to blow you out of your seats, knock you into astonishment. I just couldn’t wrap myself around the fact that this was the very last day for the remainder of the year that I’d be in the same room, performing a show with the full MacArthur Band.
Our show played out wonderfully; this being the day that we were taped for videos on sale. On the last note of “Malaguena,” tears began to form. This was our 2010-2011 seniors’ last MacArthur performance. Goodbyes were floating their way around the auditorium, contagious with their bittersweet meanings.
All three bands ran across the stage, jumping on seniors, bear-hugging them with pure love. As soon as the percussion finished their goodbye chants, I ran to my favorite senior and almost cried my own goodbyes. It was mass chaos. You could almost slip on the tears that were hitting the G-Force floor.
That was when the snares blasted through the crowd, playing the band’s very favorite song, Mambo. We danced. The air was revived with happiness and wonder. As the audience stared in confusion, the band began our dance to the cadence, moving our bodies from one side to another in unison. I’ve never had more fun in any band experience than this one. Our farewells to the seniors not only sent them off to awaiting new experiences, but also began the start of our own.
2010-2011 G-Force was over, and every single drip of hard-working sweat dropped in preparation for it all suddenly seemed completely worth it.