One time at band camp

So this one time at band camp, I had to play the drums.  Well, no, let me start again.  I wasn’t in a band and I wasn’t at camp, BUT I was in the 4th grade and required to endure what seemed like an hour’s time of learning to play an instrument.  It started off simply enough with everyone learning to play that plastic like thing called a recorder.  I could manage it and was ok at making noise with it.

Then the music teacher let us pick another instrument from the many available such as trombone, flute, tuba, and drums. Because I was a kid and hadn’t yet learned to think through things yet or to forecast that since I wasn’t so hot with the recorder that perhaps I should select an instrument that was easy to “hide” in, instead I chose what I thought would be super cool to play: the snare drums.

And so began a series of torture sessions.  Every single day just before music class started, my heart lodged itself in my throat and made breathing hard and painful for me.  My stomach did more than just get butterflies, it ached, it screamed, it burned and twisted with the nerves that said it was almost time to go play that hideous instrument of which I was absolutely clueless about when to tap it or rap it or double pound it.  There was nowhere to hide when it came to playing those damn drums.

My problem was not made any easier when the teacher had explained that all I needed to do was look at the notes to tell my fingers what to do with the sticks.  Sure, but those notes indicated nothing to me, so most of the time I just awkwardly beat the thing and then the teacher, in front of the whole class would make me do it again because my drum wasn’t “meshing” with the sound of the music we were trying to make.  So then, with all eyes on me and nowhere to hide, I would focus my eyes hard on the notes (yeah as if staring at those things would help) and would hesitantly beat the drum at the times and with the right taps that I thought the notes suggested.  I would be sweating in places that I did not know my body could sweat and that damn heart of mine would be pounding in my throat, denying any fresh air to my screaming stomach. Torture.  Ache. Cruelty.

One day my head nearly exploded when my friend told me I “sucked” at music.  She dug the knife further into me when she admitted that she sucked at it too, but when we had to pick the instruments, she chose the trombone because there were like five of them.  Then to make sure the knife was wedged deeply in me, she then said, “There are so many of them, that most of the time I just move it around with my fingers going wherever and I don’t even bother to blow into it. But the teacher thinks I am playing!” She laughed hysterically.  My jaw dropped. Lesson learned.

My drum playing lasted about another two weeks and then I was demoted to the flutes I think (I can’t exactly remember, but it was a wind instrument, you know the kind that you blow into). I didn’t make any effort to play it, just moved my fingers around, imitating the others and puffing my cheeks like I was blowing air. I think the teacher was impressed.

One response to “One time at band camp”

  1. Here’s where I laughed to tears, either as cruel as your little trombonist, or because this hit a true, deep nerve named All the Times I Had to Pretend I Knew What I Was Doing. (There’s a Latin name for it)
    “I would focus my eyes hard on the notes (yeah as if staring at those things would help) and would hesitantly beat the drum at the times and with the right taps that I thought the notes suggested.”


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