Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

A Uniter, Not a Divider

Last week I did the online-writing equivalent of setting off a mousetrap in a warehouse full of ’em. Made a Facebook status full of a comment that was faintly political, but (I thought) more about manners than policy.

And not long after, without any further effort on my part, I’d played host to one of those political-firestorm comment threads.

Of course I concurred with the thoughts of about half the people who added comments to the post.

But what struck me about the exchange was how much it seemed to parallel the state of the States these days.

Lots of commentators are noting that we can hardly talk to each other, if it involves political beliefs.

These particular commentators represented an intriguing demographic.

They were, each of them, from a slightly different moment on my timeline of “involvement with college bands.” One was from my UMass marching days. One was from my early days with the BU band. One was from later on in the Terrier era. And one was from my time with the Holy Cross band.

All of them spoke “band”. Not a one of them was a woodwind player, therefore they all had seen the front sideline. (Sorry, flutes, but you know that’s not an exaggeration.)

Two of them were not very happy with the assertion I made about one of the gentlemen currently running for President. Two of them were not very happy with the assertions that the first two had made.

Politics aside, though, all four of them would have been entirely happy to get on the same hypothetical band bus and make the straight run for whatever hypothetical stadium at which our hypothetical good-guy college football team was going to be playing on some hypothetical Saturday (if they were all hypothetically the same approximate age, which they’re definitely not). They all would have sung the bus songs with vigor; they would have charged onto the field at halftime with the same air of “lemme at it”; they all would have been among the last students to leave the band room, the Armory, or Old Chapel, after making sure everything had been put away at the end of the trip.

Now, online, separated by (in some cases) thousands of miles, they went after each other pretty lustily, and with the same courtly, polite vehemence that I imagine medieval knights must have exhibited right before jousts. (“Good sir, I surely will damage you anon.”)

But in person, they all would have hugged each other pretty hard on Senior Day, and at Band Banquet, and when they met again on Homecoming, right before the start of Alumni Band rehearsal.

We’re in a tough spot lately – people are seemingly less and less capable of remaining civil when discussing politics, never mind seeing eye-to-eye. But one thing is still true, I think:

Band is a place for everyone.


October 26, 2012 - Posted by | band, BUMB, Facebook, marching band, music, politics, social media, Starred Thoughts, UMMB | , , , , , , , ,

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