Monday, August 13, 2012

Reflections on band camp

The sun is low across the lake. It has been cool all day with an unusually high humidity for an August afternoon. Sound travels far in this heavy air. I'm sitting on a picnic table outside a dorm with a Native American name I can't pronounce.

Fifty yards away, the percussion section bangs out eighth-note triplets. To my left the tubas are practicing scales. I can feel the notes slapping against the wall of the dorm. The trombones are playing the Grand Ledge High School Alma Mater off to my right. The trumpets - out of sight somewhere between the tubas and trombones - are working their way through I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables. And, in the midst of the dissonance, the flag corp is on the outdoor basketball court tossing their flags in rhythm to a Lady Gaga tune. (They've somehow managed to drag a stereo to camp so Gaga can make her contribution to the musical mayhem.)

It is Band Camp 2012 at Kimball Camp.

I wonder what the neighbors' reactions are to this Sunday night cacophony. I wonder if they have any idea how blown away they'll be in about thirty minutes when the sections come together on the hastily marked out football field to play the fight song. When Mr. Blackmer hits the ignition switch on this nearly 200 horsepower music machine with trumpets blaring and percussion snapping out a rhythm that echoes through the meadow down to the water's edge and beyond.

It is an awesome thing when the band finally comes together on Sunday night.

But for now - on Sunday afternoon - they're in the sections. Doing their own thing. Making noise instead of music.

I wish it didn't remind me so much of Sunday mornings.

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