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Let's hear it for the band!
October 1, 2013 - Eric Benac
One thing I've always enjoyed about attending Alpena football games, is listening to the band. It doesn't matter when they are playing: I enjoy watching them marching onto the field, in perfect unison; I also enjoy their half time show, filled with catchy, rearranged pop songs; I even love their in-game commentary, that punctuates specific plays. I am something of a music connoisseur, and an amateur musician myself, so a good band always makes me smile.
I also greatly regret never joining band in high school. Oh, I tried out for it in junior high, and was excited to try and learn the trumpet. I loved the sound, timbre, and texture that a trumpet made, and couldn't wait to get my hands on one.
Imagine my mortification when they instead handed me a trombone.
Relax, trombone fans: I'm not denigrating the instrument. I now realize that it can produce a rich, sultry tone that blends perfectly in a well-synchronized brass section. At the time, however, I hated playing it: I could hardly get an even note to come out, couldn't figure out the pitch positions, and felt embarrassed every time I tried to play along with my schoolmates.
I quickly sold my trombone back to the school, and quit band.
And although I did sing in choir for three years, that was mostly for the easy "A": we lacked the same kind of serious camaraderie that I saw in the band students. I do have fond memories of trips to Chicago with the choir, but it was generally not the same experience I saw in my band friends. When I was a teenager in Hillman, band was kind of a big thing.
There were at least 50 players, a shockingly large number for a school so small. Almost all of my friends played in the band, including some of my football teammates. They would march with the band before the game in full uniform, banging their drum, honking their tuba, or tinkling their bells. I saw that this tradition continues in the Mio-Hillman game on Friday, when Hillman player Tyler Barnes honked the sax before the game, decked out and ready to play.
I can see that same kind of serious, dedication in the Alpena High School band: you can see it in their carefully choreographed marches, their dedication to nailing down their tunes, and their enthusiasm during the game. Anybody in the stands at Wildcat Stadium can attest to the deafening roar that comes from the student section during each game. Anybody who has been to more than one AHS game, knows the mockingly comic trumpet flourish that plays during every Alpena kickoff. Although they tend to blend into the background seamlessly most of the time, it's hard to imagine what a game would be like without them.
So, next time you're at a game, why not take a moment to cheer for the band? Slap em on the back, give em a high five, and let them know they're doing a great job. Or better yet, help keep them funded with donations. I just saw some band members at Wal-Mart, looking for a few extra dollars for the program. I dropped what I had in the bucket, knowing that music programs are often the first to go when budget cuts are looming.
I honestly can't imagine a game without them.
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