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  1. #1
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    band geeks unite!

    I may have mentioned before that I play in a community concert band. We rehearse on Wednesday nights, and as I was driving home last night I thought to myself that my band experiences are pretty the same now as they were back in high school: few things in my life give me more pleasure, we all do it because we love it ... and we're all complete geeks.

    The pleasure part is obvious -- making music a an ensemble is highly satisfying on both an intellectual and emotional level. But why is it so geeky? Is it the repertoire? The uniforms? (Though at least on that level our own band gets off very lightly -- esp. when we see what some of the other groups are wearing at the annual community band festival!)

    Is there something inherently uncool about a bassoon or a French horn -- while an electric guitar or drums are "cool"?

    Not that I care all that much of course, or I wouldn't still be doing it after all this time. Just one of those things that makes me think.

    So ... where are all my other band geeks at?

  2. #2

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    Band geek here! :-D I loved being in the band and for a short time was in a community orchestra as an adult, but time constraints and business travel worked against that. I would like to take it up again someday.

    I play the flute, so of course there are always a number of people who want to hear me relate a "this one time at band camp story".

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    Another band geek here, though it was many, many years ago. I never really learned to play my clarinet very well due to lack of practice, but I surely did love my band experience.

    I was a teacher for many years, and I think the music, art and drama kids are the coolest!

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    Band geek! I played flute for 9 years, 4 of them in a competitive marching band. By the end of that I just needed a break and I'm sad to say I haven't really picked it back up since. I certainly intend to though, and I never was sorry to say I was in marching band. All the band geeks were really close in high school, too. Even on weekends that we didn't have shows, I was always out with the others.

    In my experience, there's only a social stigma toward band in high school; somehow in college people start to think it's more cool. Or that's what I've seen, at least. My current school does not have a marching band (heck, we don't even have a football team! ) but the college I transferred from two years ago had a huge one, and I didn't like them because they only did pep band stuff, and jazz music. In high school my band did more voidy (I guess you could say haha) pieces by Key Poulan. I don't know if anyone here has heard of him, but a lot of bands in my region had their competitive shows composed by him.

    I actually really want to go to the DCI championships someday; it's been a goal of mine since I graduated high school. Anyone else follow the professional drum corps?

  5. #5
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    I'm such a band geek I majored in it

    Finishing up my semester of student teaching at an awesome band program in Michigan tomorrow. We have State Festival tonight, actually, and I'm beyond excited to conduct them there. I'm so proud of this group, and so thankful I was placed here. I'm throwing them a pizza party to say goodbye tomorrow, and to thank them for a great semester and reward their hard work.

    Clarinetist, by the way, though I've added many instruments to that since I first picked it up

  6. #6

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    I'm a clarinetist, too, and a 2nd generation band geek. My dad was a high school band director, so is my husband, I teach at the college level, and our oldest son is a high school orchestra director. I've never not been in a band, since I was 9 years old.

  7. #7
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    I'm a former band geek but still play a lot. I started playing flute in grade 7 band and liked it a lot and played well enough to get a B.Music degree in it I played in band all throughout jr high, high and university. Now I teach elementary music/band and I still perform a lot, mostly in a flute/piano duo and in celtic and gospel "bands". I love, love, love performing. It is my favourite thing in the world to do and mostly play every weekend as I am a church musician as well.

    BTW, yes I went to band camp........
    The mind of the performer is a very strange thing.
    ~James Galway

  8. #8
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    Does playing the flag count? 6 years of twirling, high school and college!

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    Another clarinetist here! I was always pretty hardcore while in school and was pretty good, although I was self-taught and my parents couldn't afford to get me lessons. The college I chose to go to didn't have a very good band at all, so I kinda lost my passion for it. About 7 years passed of me not even looking at my clarinet, and I learned that the church I was going to be married in had a small band ensemble. So I joined that and it was pretty fun. Then I learned that since the college band was so small, they accepted community members. They have a different director than when I went there, so I gave it a whirl. This is my second year doing it, and it's pretty enjoyable. The band still isn't the greatest, but they're advanced enough that the music we play is actually challenging... not the 7th-8th grade level music I played while I was still in college. I'm not even kidding about that last part. Anyway, I'll likely take at least the first semester off next year because I'll have a new baby, but I'm looking forward to going back for 2nd semester.

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    I was in school concert band for about five or six years - stopped because my flute was stolen at school.

    It was fun while it lasted though - my friends were in band, and we got to practice during school hours as it was a class (poor strings had to come in earlier, I'm not sure why they didn't have equal status when band and choir were classes).

    I enjoyed it so much more than playing piano, probably because of the social/community aspect. I was never motivated in piano, and flute seemed to come easier - I could get by with less individual practice. Flutes get the melody or at least more interesting parts. I don't think I could read music easily anymore though, it's been so long.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by woodstock View Post
    Does playing the flag count? 6 years of twirling, high school and college!
    I hope so, since I was gonna ask if doing rifle in drum corps counted. I marched 6 years in the Blue Knights (Denver) back in the late 60's/early 70's. Oh, and shouldn't that be spinning, not twirling? Back in my day anyway, we made that distinction so as not to get us confused with the baton twirlers. But of course, that was a very long time ago.

    Quote Originally Posted by lmarie086 View Post
    Band geek! I played flute for 9 years, 4 of them in a competitive marching band. By the end of that I just needed a break and I'm sad to say I haven't really picked it back up since. I certainly intend to though, and I never was sorry to say I was in marching band. All the band geeks were really close in high school, too. Even on weekends that we didn't have shows, I was always out with the others.

    In my experience, there's only a social stigma toward band in high school; somehow in college people start to think it's more cool. Or that's what I've seen, at least. My current school does not have a marching band (heck, we don't even have a football team! ) but the college I transferred from two years ago had a huge one, and I didn't like them because they only did pep band stuff, and jazz music. In high school my band did more voidy (I guess you could say haha) pieces by Key Poulan. I don't know if anyone here has heard of him, but a lot of bands in my region had their competitive shows composed by him.

    I actually really want to go to the DCI championships someday; it's been a goal of mine since I graduated high school. Anyone else follow the professional drum corps?
    Yup, I've been a drum corps fan ever since I marched myself. Still follow the activity religiously. I've even been to the two DCI Championships that were held here in Denver in the late 70's as well as the one held here in 2004. And, to top it off, my mom and I are in a crowd shot on the DVD from 2004!

    Oh, and I also played viola in jr/sr high school. So does that make me an orchestra geek too?

  12. #12
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    Wow, we're pretty heavy on the high woodwinds here. Not that there's anything wrong with that -- I'm a flautist myself (and sorta tenor sax), but we need some middle & low voices if we want to get a really good balanced sound here.

  13. #13

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    Well, at least Woodstock and I are balanced out in the visual department.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flatfoote View Post
    Well, at least Woodstock and I are balanced out in the visual department.

    And me! Played clarinet from 5th to 10th grade (two years of that was bass clarinet), and dropped it because I was stuck with a HS band teacher who was CLUELESS about marching band (and this is just playing for football games and parades, not doing competitive field band). I switched to colorguard fulltime (rifle and banner) and stuck with that until I graduated. I was also a majorette/show twirler/competitive baton twirler for 12 years.

    I must say that the way rifles are handled nowadays is disappointing. I grew up watching field band as well as winterguard 30+ years ago, as my oldest brother was in the high school marching/field band from 8th grade until he graduated, and in those days, they actually SPUN the rifles; now, they mostly just wave them around, with some throws now and then. And IMO dancing around with a rifle or sabre in your hands just looks STUPID; you need the military bearing (and uniform) and the precision drillwork for it to look right.

    I was lucky to learn rifle from a woman who was a CG co-captain her senior year (1984) - she taught me how to do a "turnaround catch" (triple revolution throw with a single spin underneath - scared the crap outta me every time I would attempt it). She also used to DRILL us on the basic spins - right and left hand singles, back-and-forth, hand-over-hand... all stuff you don't see done anymore.

    Here's a link I think you'll enjoy perusing - lots of videos and photos: Color Guard Historical Society
    Last edited by Karina1974; 04-27-2012 at 08:44 PM.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Artemis@BC View Post
    Wow, we're pretty heavy on the high woodwinds here. Not that there's anything wrong with that -- I'm a flautist myself (and sorta tenor sax), but we need some middle & low voices if we want to get a really good balanced sound here.
    Would a contrabass clarinet do? I switched from regular clarinet to bass in Jr. High, but played the alto and the contrabass as well. Of course, they belonged to the school - not me. It was fun for competitions, because we could put together all kinds of woodwind ensembles.

    I was teaching myself oboe, with an to playing the english horn, when I was a Sr., but braces stopped that.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Karina1974 View Post
    And me! Played clarinet from 5th to 10th grade (two years of that was bass clarinet), and dropped it because I was stuck with a HS band teacher who was CLUELESS about marching band (and this is just playing for football games and parades, not doing competitive field band). I switched to colorguard fulltime (rifle and banner) and stuck with that until I graduated. I was also a majorette/show twirler/competitive baton twirler for 12 years.

    I must say that the way rifles are handled nowadays is disappointing. I grew up watching field band as well as winterguard 30+ years ago, as my oldest brother was in the high school marching/field band from 8th grade until he graduated, and in those days, they actually SPUN the rifles; now, they mostly just wave them around, with some throws now and then. And IMO dancing around with a rifle or sabre in your hands just looks STUPID; you need the military bearing (and uniform) and the precision drillwork for it to look right.

    I was lucky to learn rifle from a woman who was a CG co-captain her senior year (1984) - she taught me how to do a "turnaround catch" (triple revolution throw with a single spin underneath - scared the crap outta me every time I would attempt it). She also used to DRILL us on the basic spins - right and left hand singles, back-and-forth, hand-over-hand... all stuff you don't see done anymore.

    Here's a link I think you'll enjoy perusing - lots of videos and photos: Color Guard Historical Society
    Ahhh. A person after my own heart. I have to say "Old School" guard rocks! Now, we may not have tossed the rifles as high as they do now-a-days. But we sure could spin the heck out of them! It's nice to see someone appreciating the Old School, instead of just telling us old farts to go away, our time is over (an attitude seen quite a lot on Drum Corps Planet).

    Thanks for that link. I'll be adding it to my favorites (under my folder labeled "corps and guard") as soon as I'm done posting this!

    ETA: Well, what do you know. I already had that link in my favorites! LOL. I guess I should peruse it some more.

    ETA Part II: Some interesting trivia on that triple turn around toss. I'm fairly confident in saying that move actually originated in our guard back in the early 70's. Our guard instructor came up with the idea, but didn't have the physcial agility to do it. So he just described his idea to us, and we set about trying to do it. Most of us were scared of the rifle coming down on top of our heads while we were turning around, so we kept throwing it way away from our body. So of course once we turned around, we'd have to run and chase it to try and catch it, LOL. We also weren't successful on figuring out how to turn around quickly enough. Many times, the poor rifle ended up on the ground before we had turned all the way around. Finally, after few close calls of avoiding cracked skulls, our instructor called it off and told us to forget it. Almost all of us were glad to oblige. All except one girl, who was a superstar. She was the kind of person who could not only spin the heck out of her rifle, but toss the heck out of it too. She was tossing 7's and 8's when the elite quards were just tossing quads.

    Anyway, we had an individual competition, in which Lucy (the superstar) and I were entered from our guard. Lucy perfected the triple turn around on her own time, and put it into her individual routine. She won hands down (I got second). At critique, one of the judges, A Mr. Alex Hadad from the Midwest Color Guard Circuit, asked her about that move, and suggested she start teaching it to the other members, as it was so impressive. Next season, several MWCGC guards were doing that move. I can't say I witnessed such, but I am willing to bet that Mr Hadad went back to the Midwest, and told several guard instructors there about this amazing girl in Colorado he had judged, and this cool new move she had done. The timing sure seemed right anyway!

    I can't remember if it was that season, or the next. A girl in the Miller's Blackhawks guard from Ohio tossed her rifle, spun her body three times around and caught it! She had roots in baton twirling too. So I assume that's how she was able to perfect spinning her body around so quickly and perfectly.

    I commend you on learning that move. I have to say that was one move I never learned. By the time it became a "standard" move for guards to learn, I was unfortunatley out of the game of performing. So, I'll admit I liked the shape my skull was in at the time, and decided it was a foolishly dangerous move to learn on my own just for the fun of it. LOL.
    Last edited by Flatfoote; 04-27-2012 at 09:42 PM.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Artemis@BC View Post
    Wow, we're pretty heavy on the high woodwinds here. Not that there's anything wrong with that -- I'm a flautist myself (and sorta tenor sax), but we need some middle & low voices if we want to get a really good balanced sound here.
    I could play bass clarinet...

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    Another flautist here. Started when I was in 5th grade and played in concert band and orchestra from junior high through college. Also played in a competitive marching band for four years in high school and show marching band in college. Played piccolo for six of those years in marching band. Really loved the opportunities I had to perform at the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers half time shows and White Sox opening day, among a few other performances.

    I'm another big Drum Corp fan and am very disappointed they don't televise the DCI finals anymore. We have the Cavaliers nearby and the Phantom Regiment isn't too far so I've caught them live a couple of times.

    Last fall I was able to attend a nearby competition where my old high school band was competing (they won their class!). It was amazing to see the changes. Like some of the other posters, I came from the old school with the flags and rifles. Now, each band has a theme, there were many costume and equipment changes, some even had scenery. Every single band has a percussion pit with many instruments were featured that you never would have seem back in my day. There was an electronic violin, several electric guitars, one band even had a sitar. The other thing that was mind blowing was that the director of my old band was someone I had marched with and a couple of other assistants were former band members I recognized!

    Although I haven't played in a long time, I still have my flute and piccolo. Really should pick them up again.

  19. #19
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    yet another flautist here. I am also a middle school band/orchestra teacher - guess I just couldn't let go of being a band geek. Its a great job. There is really nothing like playing in band. I hope my students are getting the same love for it!

    funny how here - like in school bands, we just need more low brass!!

  20. #20
    Let's go Anacode!!!
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    I can't believe the amount of posters here who played the bass clarinet!! Most people probably wouldn't even know what it was....

    I'm also a surviving band geek!! I played the trombone in third grade, after being picked by the elementary music teacher to try it out. They were trying to get some interest in certain instruments and she thought I would be a good fit. I hated the buzzing in my lips though so I switched the next year to clarinet.

    I played the clarinet until middle school where I switched to the bass clarinet. I love love love the bass clarinet!! I played that from sixth grade to senior year. I also participated in the high school competitive marching band, where I played the piccolo.

    Marching band was probably the best part of high school. I met the majority of my friends through marching band (some I still see all these years later) and the weekends spent on school buses traveling to numerous states to compete led to many memories that we still laugh about today.

    My school's marching band has definitely dwindled over the years and it's really sad to see it now.
    Don't cry because its over...smile because it happened.

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