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Winter Blues

Brian Anderson | February 2019

You Can’t Go

    In his mail one day, Mr. Reed received an acceptance letter for the band to perform at at national music conference. He was beside himself with excitement over the great opportunity for the students and the program. He informed the kids, and they were thrilled. After the day’s rehearsal, he went down to the office to share the good news expecting the same level of excitement from his administrators.
    Activities Director: “You can’t go.”
    Mr. Reed: “What do you mean, we can’t go?”
    AD: “We would have students missing sports practices. You can’t go!”
    Mr. Reed: “We have a school policy that says in the case of conflicts the more prestigious event is the one students will attend. A performance of this magnitude definitely beats a sports practice.”
    AD (screaming): “You can’t go!”
    Principal: “Now, let’s calm down. This sounds like a great opportunity for our kids. If we can make this work in any way, we need to do this.” He then turned to the Assistant Principal and asked, “What do you think?” The Assistant replied that he agreed with the AD. 
    Mr. Reed, exasperated, said, “Our band is one of 20 bands from across the nation being honored to perform at a national music convention, and we can’t go because of sports practices? If this were the football team, not only would we call off school for three days so entire community could go, the school would pay for every football player’s expenses. We don’t want any of that. We just want to be able to go, and we’ll raise all the money. We just need the okay. Do you realize the good public relations that will be gained from this, in addition to a great educational experience for our students?” The administrators wanted the night to think it over.
    The next day Mr. Reed was called to the office. The band could attend the event as long as they paid for all expenses themselves, and as long as any athlete who would rather stay home for sports practices could do so. In the end, one student chose to stay home, and two others took late flights to the conference to go to one last athletic practice, while the rest of the band bused to the destination. The band had worked hard and performed well, and in the end, everyone was happy.

Specificity Matters
    On the day of the concert, Mr. Reed reviewed the proper dress code for the show: uniforms, black socks, and black band shoes. That night a couple of his colleagues from another school district attended the show to offer their constructive comments prior to the state music contest. One of the colleagues told him that he saw three students, all low brass players, who were not wearing black socks. “This distracted me,” said the colleague, “and a judge will probably comment on it.”
    Mr. Reed hurried back to the band room and asked for the low brass to come see him immediately. He asked who was not wearing black socks. No one raised a hand. He told the students that a colleague he respected had said three low brass players were not wearing black socks, but still no one admitted to it.
    Agitated, Mr. Reed asked everyone to pull up the legs of their trousers. He then saw three students with no socks. When he asked them why they weren’t wearing black socks, they assured him they were. One of the three students spoke up and said, “They’re no-shows,” and removed his shoes. Indeed, all three students were wearing black no-show” socks. In their minds, they were doing the right thing because the socks were black, even though they could not be seen over the shoes. The next day Mr. Reed addressed the concert dress code again with the addition of black socks that fully cover the ankles.

The Dorian Practice Technique
    Accompanist: “Your music is in the key of D major, but you are missing every F# and C#.”
    Student: “That’s okay. I learn the notes first, then I go back and put in the flats and sharps later.”

Really Nice of Him
    Mr. Reed’s students were playing at the finals of a basketball tournament for which the winning team went to State. The band for the opposing high school was directed by one of Mr. Reed’s closest friends, and each wanted the other to have the “privilege” of taking a pep band to the state tournament. As the game was winding down the two directors would wave at each other if their team was behind, both hoping that this was the last pep band performance for their students. At a pivotal point in the game, the opposing team hit a three-point shot at which point Mr. Reed, forgetting his surroundings yelled out, “Yes!” After yelling this he turned to his left to see parents and community members staring at him in disbelief; he had been caught cheering for the other team. 
    Mr. Reed quickly countered by feigning ignorance with “Wasn’t that us?” While people from the community were answering by telling him how stupid he was, one of Mr. Reed’s students whispered in his ear, “Don’t worry about it, Mr. Reed. We all feel the same way.”
    Mr. Reed’s team ended up winning the game, clinching a berth in the state tournament. Once the buses had been loaded and they were preparing to leave, the director from the other band, came by to thank the students for playing and wish them good luck at State. While his friend smiled widely and waved goodbye to the buses, Mr. Reed fumed as one of his students said, “That was really nice of him.”