After the visual block walked with some of the students and had some minor chat. When I got back to my car I filled a water bottle from my water jug and drained the bottle. I was mentally exhausted and while I didn’t feel dehydrated I knew getting several ounces of water into my system after several hours in the wind and sun would be a good idea. I could see some battery cats still drumming (drummers gotta drum) It sounded decent so I made a PB and J sammich and refilled my water bottle and headed under the tree to where they were for a closer listen.
Fortunately or unfortunately, I am really not sure which, they stopped playing soon after my arrival and circled up around me after I sat on the grass under the tree, behind the drums. They started asking me basic polite questions and soon started asking questions about the horn line and other general questions about the program this year. After the questions were answered I felt a certain obligation to keep the conversation going and actually what I did was start to tell stories about the program from the past. Entertaining is something that has always seemed to come easy for me.
I hadn’t thought about it until this point but this program has taken me across the country seven times, mostly by bus but a few times by plane (Oh the time my plane almost crash landed in Atlanta!). I have worked with about 50 different instructors and have worked with over 700 students with this program. I have a few stories to tell. Funny things happen when a group of people have to spend an extensive amount of time with each other in close quarters.
Lunch is ending and I make my way back to my car, refill my water bottle and take my clipboard to head over to the horn line music block and practice learning new people’s names. On the way I see one of the color guard’s little sister sitting by herself. She’s been coming with her mom and her dad all this season, so far, and just hangs around. Her parents are super volunteers and do a lot of the cooking for us on the road and at camps. This season they have been cooking lunch for kids that don’t want to leave campus to get food.
We have 8 hour days and it seems unusual for a 13 year old to just want to sit around and really do nothing all that time. She seems to occupy her time well. I do notice other kids and adults talk to her as they pass by as they go here and there. I stop to say hi and go on my way but she keeps talking, so I keep listening. After a few minutes I sit down as she apparently has quite a bit to say, nothing earth shattering, just chat. After 20 or 30 minutes we are talking about people falling asleep in class and she starts laughing. Like silly almost uncontrollable laughter. I figure that is a good a time as any to leave and I do.
I get to the horn arc and find a good place to watch and listen. Getting my roll sheet out I start looking at names and faces and start making connections. We have nine new trumpets and that section is giving me some difficulty. In between exercises I approach them and individually ask them their names again. I am pretty sure I have them all learned now. The mellophone section has 7 new faces, but they don’t seem to be giving me much trouble to remember. Same thing with the baritones, and there are 10 new faces there. I think what it is is hair styles and colors. There is a greater variety in the mellophones and baritones. In the trumpets, not so much. Anyways since the tubas are in the same category, as far as hair color and style variety, I pretty much have all the new people’s names learned.
It is important to me as an instructor to learn my students names as quickly as possible. To me it is kind of biblical, you have been called by name 😀 But seriously, when someone addresses you by your name it is more personal, your listening becomes a little sharper. There are so many conscious and unconscious responses we have when people refer to us by our name. I just think as an instructional strategy, information is delivered more effectively when you use a student’s name.
I walk around and talk with parents that are observing rehearsal. Most of them are vet parents. They have some interesting perspective about the new crop of people and the vets that have returned. It is always good to hear another person’s perspective about anything anytime. They remind of some of the personalities that aren’t with us anymore. They perceive and I believe also that we have a better chemistry with our returning vets and the new people. I talk later with the head of the battery section and he too believes we have the best group of drummers/percussion, just from a character standpoint that this group has ever had. I believe that too. I noticed some of the kids that made the cut were standouts during the visual blocks at open house and workshops. I am happy for those kids. They/we are all at the start of another amazing journey.