Before I get to the heavy stuff, I want to explore one more aspect of middle school: The Band.
Now, sixth graders weren’t allowed to take part in the marching band, but we were encouraged to learn an instrument so that we’d be prepared for our seventh and eighth grade years.
Our fearless leader was good ol’ Bill Carr. You may have heard of him. He’s pretty famous in Roanoke music circles. At least, that’s what he told us. I kid, he’s actually a pretty humble guy.
As a kid, it was difficult to not look upon him as a slave driving maniac, cracking a whip upon us poor kids, making us walk and play instruments in the bitter cold. But now that I can see the bigger picture, he was just trying to teach us the importance of taking pride in what we set out to do.
One of his favorite lessons was the value of teamwork. For a band to succeed, the individual parts must come together to form the whole. Often he would use the illustration that the difference between the word “united” and “untied” depended upon where you put the “I.” I guess that’s one of those “there’s no I in team” kind of phrases.
I played the trumpet, along with most of the other cool kids. Since this was just middle school, we really had no idea what it meant to be band geeks. That kind of thing wouldn’t come along ‘til high school.
I don’t remember many of the songs that we played, but I do remember feeling a great sense of accomplishment whenever we nailed a performance. Like I said, at the time, we would grumble about the way Mr. Carr would direct us in rehearsals or fuss at us for not being focused. But even then, it was easy to see the pride in his eyes when we had finished a concert. There was never any doubt, the man loved what he did.
I ran into Mr. Carr a few years ago. He went to the same church that I was attending before I moved away from Roanoke. My sister, April, played in the band a few years after I did, and I’m pretty sure he must have liked her better than me. Every time I saw him at church, he would ask about her. I’m not sure if I should let that bother me or not.
You’re probably asking if I still play the trumpet. The answer, of course, is no. Seems I can’t stick to anything I took up in middle school.