A week after eating a rock

An outstanding newspaper wrote a story and a column about last weekend’s UW Band concerts.

Photo by Gary Smith. Good thing this is only practice, but Leckrone always said you play like you practice. Toes not pointed, upper leg not at a 45-degree angle. What is the statute of limitations for being on the Dummy List?
For those who assume I’m making all this up, my cousin shot this photo as evidence that I indeed marched one more time with the UW Band.
The 50 alumni — 50 for 50 years, get it? — who played in the concert. Photo by Gary Smith.
The oldest trumpet players in the concerts. Photo also by Gary Smith.

If you look toward the lower right of the screen you will see more evidence that I did actually play:

Another band alum posted about the first time he met Mike Leckrone. Since my parents are football season-ticket-holders of long standing, and I generally got to go to one game a year, I saw the band starting in the early 1970s, and went to two concerts in the late 1970s. (A Madison TV station had a preview of the concert that night including video of practice with Leckrone not too happy with the band. That’s what we call foreshadowing.) The first time I saw him close enough to be recognizable was at a high school marching band practice, in which Leckrone exhorted us to march with a sense of confidence and pride and we’re-the-best-there-is. I didn’t get that until three years later when I made the band.

(About which: I survived 1983 Registration Week practices, thinking I was going to die 15 minutes into the first practice. The following Monday the list of those who made it and those who didn’t was posted. I went over, looked at the you’re-in list, and then found the trumpets, and there I was. I stared at it for a few minutes not believing my eyes. Then I called my parents and, after a pause for dramatic tension, told them that now they had a reason to go to the games.)

The funniest thing about Wednesday’s practice — other than Leckrone’s telling his band they weren’t going to practice more than twice so we wouldn’t get tired out — was that he indicated his displeasure with his band using the exact words he could have used on us 35 years ago, beginning with the band director chestnut, “Why are you talking?” after they stopped playing. (That might be a reality of even military bands.) That was followed by a criticism for lack of spacing while playing and a general observation that “you play like you practice.”

The UW Band Alumni Association Facebook page has a huge list of people’s favorite shows or music (in my case, the James Bond Medley from freshman year, Too Old for MTV sophomore year, West Side Story and the international On Wisconsin show from junior year, and Jesus Christ Superstar from first senior year), and people writing about the impact Leckrone and the band had on their lives.

All of the lasts of Leckrone’s final season …

The four days with the band were better than I thought possible. There were two marchers from Leckrone’s first band, in 1969. The most numerous marchers seemed to be from the group that started in 1979, which got not just bowl games …

… but NCAA hockey championships to go to and play.

There were a lot of tears Saturday night. I wasn’t one of them because I’m not built like that. (Recall the Dr. Seuss phrase, “Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.”) Perhaps it’s because, like my last year in the band, all my lasts didn’t hit me as lasts until the following August when I wasn’t about to start Reg Week rehearsals.

(I am virtually certain I am somewhere in that video.?)

The Peace Corps calls itself “the toughest job you’ll ever love.” The term “love” is grossly overused today, but I loved being in the band. What did the band mean to me? Take your pick.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s