Category Archives: Marching Band

More Band High Jinx

I heard another great marching band story.

They had a late band rehearsal one night and an early call the next morning for a competition. One boy, let’s call him Squiggy, lived far from the high school and couldn’t get a ride home.

As a parent, this part of the story made me cock my head, furrow my brow, AND go all squinty-eyed. But I’ve been assured it’s true.

So Squiggy couldn’t get home and even if he did, he’d just have to turn around and get back to school for their early call. Being a resourceful kid, he asked one of his friends to lock him in a tuba locker and then let him out the next morning.

I’d like to interject here that I’m not quite sure why Squiggy felt the need to get locked in. Nor can anyone explain it to me. But It reminds me of Gary Larson getting complaints about the flies in his Far Side cartoons. People would complain, “Flies wouldn’t say that!” totally forgetting that flies don’t talk. In that same way, getting LOCKED in a tuba locker seems over the top. Spending the night, sure. Perfectly logical.

At any rate, all went as planned at Tuba Motel and it’s still a widely-known secret to this day.

I’m sure there are a zillion things band directors are happy not to know, and yet, how can you not be curious about these kinds of escapades?

Our previous band director instigated “Senior Confessions” which were always held on the last band trip of the season. He’d gather all the seniors and they’d each confess one thing for which they’d be given amnesty. They ranged from the small ”” “I thought I was a lesbian until the 9th grade band trip” ”” to the large ”” “I never learned the fight song.”

Lest you think I made a mistake in that last sentence, I was told at least 463 times that there’s nothing worse than not learning the fight song in four years. (Well, almost nothing. I have another band story to be told at a later date.)

I don’t make this stuff up! But it’s why I like hanging out with band kids … they have particularly entertaining stories.

Senior Confessions is a great way for a director to keep his finger on the pulse of the band students, but I’m fairly certain Tuba Locker Motel never came up.

Tell me more Band Confessions. I grant you amnesty too!

PS – If you like the marching band posts ”” and how could you not ”” I always give them their own category so you can find them easily. See up at the top, right under the title where it says “filed under Becky’s marching band”? If you click that, you should be able to see all my marching band posts. If you click on “filed under marching band,” you’ll find other blogs about marching band. I still need to explore more, but so far, the majority of them are not that interesting ”” mostly set up by directors to communicate with their band. As soon as I find one that rocks, I’ll let you know. And if you find one, let ME know!

What’s All This About Band Book Week?

I’m here to speak out against Band Book Week. How dare those librarians force us to read books about band all week! Don’t they know there are also books about birth control and fat kids and witches and gay penguins and full frontal snogging and Huckleberry Finn AND shelves of books by Judy Blume?! Kids won’t have time to just read books about band ””

Miss Litella?


Excuse me, but it’s Banned Book Week. Not Band Book Week. Banned books.

Oh. I’m sorry. Never mind.

Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books in 2000-2007

Out of 3,869 challenges reported to or recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom, as compiled by the Office for Intellectual Freedom, American Library Association. The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom does not claim comprehensiveness in recording challenges. Research suggests that for each challenge reported there are as many as four or five which go unreported.

1 Harry Potter ~ J.K. Rowling
2 Alice series ~ Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
3 The Chocolate War ~ Robert Cormier
4 Of Mice and Men ~ John Steinbeck
5 I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings ~ Maya Angelou
6 Scary Stories ~ Alvin Schwartz
7 Fallen Angels ~ Walter Dean Myers
8 It’s Perfectly Normal ~ Robie Harris
9 And Tango Makes Three ~ Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
10 Captain Underpants ~ Dav Pilkey
11 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn ~ Mark Twain
12 The Bluest Eye ~ Toni Morrison
13 Forever ~ Judy Blume
14 The Color Purple ~ Alice Walker
15 The Perks of Being A Wallflower ~ Stephen Chbosky
16 Killing Mr. Griffin ~ Lois Duncan
17 Go Ask Alice ~ Anonymous
18 King and King ~ Linda de Haan
19 Catcher in the Rye ~ J.D. Salinger
20 Bridge to Terabithia ~ Katherine Paterson
21 The Giver ~ Lois Lowry
22 We All Fall Down ~ Robert Cormier
23 To Kill A Mockingbird ~ Harper Lee`
24 Beloved ~ Toni Morrison
25 The Face on the Milk Carton ~ Caroline Cooney
26 Snow Falling on Cedars ~ David Guterson
27 My Brother Sam Is Dead ~ James Lincoln Collier
28 In the Night Kitchen ~ Maurice Sendak
29 His Dark Materials series ~ Philip Pullman
30 Gossip Girl series ~ Cecily von Ziegesar
31 What My Mother Doesn’t Know ~ Sonya Sones
32 Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging ~ Louise Rennison
33 It’s So Amazing ~ Robie Harris
34 Arming America ~ Michael Bellasiles
35 Kaffir Boy ~ Mark Mathabane
36 Blubber ~ Judy Blume
37 Brave New World ~ Aldous Huxley
38 Athletic Shorts ~ Chris Crutcher
39 Bless Me, Ultima ~ Rudolfo Anaya
40 Life is Funny ~ E.R. Frank
41 Daughters of Eve ~ Lois Duncan
42 Crazy Lady ~ Jane Leslie Conly
43 The Great Gilly Hopkins ~ Katherine Paterson
44 You Hear Me ~ Betsy Franco
45 Slaughterhouse Five ~ Kurt Vonnegut
46 Whale Talk ~ Chris Crutcher
47 The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby ~ Dav Pilkey
48 The Facts Speak for Themselves ~ Brock Cole
49 The Terrorist ~ Caroline Cooney
50 Mick Harte Was Here ~ Barbara Park
51 Summer of My German Soldier ~ Bette Green
52 The Upstairs Room ~ Johanna Reiss
53 When Dad Killed Mom ~ Julius Lester
54 Blood and Chocolate ~ Annette Curtis Klause
55 The Fighting Ground ~ Avi
56 The Things They Carried ~ Tim O’Brien
57 Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry ~ Mildred Taylor
58 Fat Kid Rules the World ~ K.L. Going
59 The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things ~ Carolyn Mackler
60 A Time To Kill ~ John Grisham
61 Rainbow Boys ~ Alex Sanchez
62 Olive’s Ocean ~ Kevin Henkes
63 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest ~ Ken Kesey
64 A Day No Pigs Would Die ~ Robert Newton Peck
65 Speak ~ Laurie Halse Anderson
66 Always Running ~ Luis Rodriguez
67 Black Boy ~ Richard Wright
68 Julie of the Wolves ~ Jean Craighead George
69 Deal With It! ~ Esther Drill
70 Detour for Emmy ~ Marilyn Reynolds
71 Draw Me A Star ~ Eric Carle
72 Fahrenheit 451 ~ Ray Bradbury
73 Harris and Me ~ Gary Paulsen
74 Junie B. Jones series ~ Barbara Park
75 So Far From the Bamboo Grove ~ Yoko Watkins
76 Song of Solomon ~ Toni Morrison
77 Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes ~ Chris Crutcher
78 What’s Happening to My Body Book ~ Lynda Madaras
79 The Boy Who Lost His Face ~ Louis Sachar
80 The Lovely Bones ~ Alice Sebold
81 Anastasia Again! ~ Lois Lowry
82 Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret ~ Judy Blume
83 Bumps In the Night ~ Harry Allard
84 Goosebumps series ~ R.L. Stine
85 Shade’s Children ~ Garth Nix
86 Cut ~ Patricia McCormick
87 Grendel ~ John Gardner
88 The House of Spirits ~ Isabel Allende
89 I Saw Esau ~ Iona Opte
90 Ironman ~ Chris Crutcher
91 The Stupids series ~ Harry Allard
92 Taming the Star Runner ~ S.E. Hinton
93 Then Again, Maybe I Won’t ~ Judy Blume
94 Tiger Eyes ~ Judy Blume
95 Like Water for Chocolate ~ Laura Esquivel
96 Nathan’s Run ~ John Gilstrap
97 Pinkerton, Behave! ~ Steven Kellog
98 Freaky Friday ~ Mary Rodgers
99 Halloween ABC ~ Eve Merriam
100 Heather Has Two Mommies ~ Leslea Newman

Celebrate Banned Book Week by reading all the challenged books you can find. Discuss with your parents, your children, your teachers, your friends, your minister and the lady who cuts your hair what the themes are that someone might have objected to and why. Talk about whether you agree or not. But TALK! There’s nothing so dangerous it can’t be talked about.

And if you hear anyone suggest a book should be challenged or banned, your first question should be, “Have you read it?” If not, they don’t get to have an opinion about it.

How many of these have you read? Do you agree with the challenges?

You Might Be A Band Geek

You Might Be A Band Geek If …
1. You just found out that people pay to get into football games.
2. A story that begins, “This one time at band camp” really is a story about this one time at band camp.
3. You match step with whoever you’re walking down the hall with.
4. The football game is just the break on either side of the halftime show.
5. The only pick-up line you know is “Need any help with your fingering?”
6. You know that getting to rehearsal early means you’re on time, getting there on time means you’re late, and getting there late means you run laps.
7. You have a favorite time signature.
8. You conduct to the radio.
9. When someone asks who your favorite band is you answer, “High school or college?”
10. You know how many people fit in a tuba locker.
11. You argue with the administration to make marching band count as PE credit.
12. When people call you a band geek you smile and accept the compliment.

Got any more? Are you a band geek?

Tell me your band stories!

Marching Band High Jinx

Marching band kids are a hoot. Hanging around them keeps me young. Or just immature.

At band camp a couple of years ago, Trumpet Player A (no names to protect the guilty!) yanked down the pants of Trumpet Player B during a water break in front of the entire band. All in good fun but, yes, accidentally caught the boxers too.

It brought new meaning to the command, “Trumpets, at ease!”

Later, PantsLess solicited the complicity of the band director who called for Trumpet Player A to stand at attention while PantsLess snuck up behind him and dumped a huge bucket of cold water over his head. If you know anything about marching band, you know when you’re at attention, you’re AT attention, no matter what happens. He stood there for a deliciously long time, dripping, not able to smile, not able to twitch, much to the delight of the rest of the band.

My favorite story though, comes to me from my son, Adam. They were on a band trip somewhere which means four kids ”” usually BFFs* ”” to a hotel room, sharing queen-sized beds. While BedMate was taking a shower, Adam put on a second pair of boxers. When they were all in bed getting ready for lights out, Adam slipped off one of the boxers, casually tossed it across the room toward his suitcase, then rolled toward BedMate.

He was across the room in a blur, yelling “What are you DOING??”

Adam said, “Oh. Sorry. You don’t want to spoon?”

It’s stuff like THAT that makes me wish I was in marching band.

So, I’m begging you … tell me your band stories. I love them more than bloggers love words … more than poets love cheese … more than Scrooge McDuck loves money … more than Greenpeace loves whales … more than texters love their thumbs. That’s a lot and you know it. The good stories will find their way into one of my novels. This I promise.

* Best Friends Forever, in teenage girl speak. See? This is an educational blog.

American Band

I was never in marching band.

When I was a kid, I took the obligatory piano lessons from the scary neighbor lady. I wasn’t very inspired (or talented) and took every opportunity not to play the piano. My father played the piano, including a rollicking good Bumblebee Boogie, and we listened to all kinds of music when I was growing up. In fact, I have an uncommonly clear memory of coming home from school to see my oldest siblings and my parents listening to the just released “Tommy” album by The Who. But as I write that, I’m wondering if it only happened in fuzzy BeckyLand because my parents were never there when I came home from school. They had to work to provide allowances to be frittered away on rock opera albums. Come to think of it, I don’t really recall attending school. Or having siblings. Or allowances. Other than that, it is a crystal clear memory.

Imagine my surprise when all three of my kids picked up instruments and played most of them fairly well. (I can confirm this is a Real Memory because I live in the house where they practice.) Between them they play: piano, violin, clarinet, saxophone, tuba, upright bass, trumpet, guitar, recorder, kazoo, pan flute and that thing shaped like the horn of some extinct animal like in the Ricola commercials.

The one nearest and dearest to us is the tuba. Both boys march(ed) tuba in their high school band and because of their fantastic experiences, I became interested enough to use the marching band as the setting for my current young adult novel.

Even though I knew a LOT about the Wonderful World of Band as a Band Mom (much like a pit bull hockey mom, but without all the creepy lipstick), I still wanted to do some research to get other perspectives.

But guess what? There aren’t that many books about the high school band experience. I KNOW! But I found a really terrific one …. AMERICAN BAND – Music, Dreams, and Coming of Age in the Heartland by Kristen Laine.

It’s a non-fiction chronicle of the lives of a group of kids in an Indiana marching band. Stefan Fatsis says, “It’s much more than the story of a season in the life of the most fanatical practitioners of this uniquely American ritual. Kristen Laine has produced a captivating portrait of what it’s like to be a teenager in middle America in the first part of the twenty-first century.”

I found it riveting. I was sucked into the lives of these kids and I cried at the end. (I know, I know. I cried at the end of Shoot The Moon too. So sue me. At least this time I wasn’t a public spectacle.)

It provided excellent research, but it left me craving more. Laine listed some titles in the back of her book, most of which I can’t find. Do you know of any books about high school marching band? College marching band? Drum and bugle corps? Novels or non-fiction ”” I’d love to read more.