Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

Lose the Uniform

Little did the students who came to this particular high school this morning know … that they were not actually auditioning to try to get into the regional festival band, chorus, orchestra and jazz band.

In fact, they were there to provide material for this space.


As I sat in the school’s cafeteria, awaiting the completion of the auditions of the twelve students I had brought from my school, numerous students from other schools passed by my table. That’s what happens when you sit at the table nearest the restrooms; people have to walk past you.

So, I was privy to two conversations that were of particular interest.

The First Conversation was between two young singers. One said to the other, “oh! I know those kids.” The other replied, “really?…!” And the first half-whispered, “yeah … but I can’t talk to them today. They’re the competition.”

About ten minutes later, a young but exceptionally tall young man carried his guitar down the middle of the cafeteria. Halfway from the food table at one end of the cafeteria to the exit, another young man called across the room, “hey!!” The two made eye contact, and the walking guitarist literally stumbled as he recognized the fellow who had called his name. Probably they were from different towns, but clearly they had known each other from somewhere else, before – perhaps from a summer music clinic, or perhaps their respective schools had held a joint concert recently. “So how’d your audition go?” said the second young man as they shook hands; and the Second Conversation began – and quickly became animated and friendly.

I noted the distinction between the two Conversations. I understood the First one; I appreciated the Second.

Later in the afternoon, the first of my school’s auditioners emerged from the hallway that led from the audition areas. We sat and chatted about the experience briefly. As the conversation wandered from topic to topic, my trumpet-playing friend mentioned that in the warmup room, he had bumped into some students from other towns that he’d known from summer jazz workshops. And he free-associated to this:

It’s interesting: I have friends from the summer camp who are drum majors of their high school marching bands – they’re rival bands, and probably make up the most intense rivalry in New Hampshire. But they went to the same summer drum major camp, and they’re great friends – and it’s like half of one band is really great friends with half of the other band.”

I’m the chorus teacher at my school. This particular trumpet player really didn’t know how close to home he had hit, talking all marching arts like that.

I decided that this Third Conversation made the score 2 to 1 in favor of “without the uniforms, we’re all in this together.”

I also decided that the work we do, the hints (very much like the one cited above) that we drop at the ol’ summer drum major academy sessions … might just be putting down roots, still, after all these years.

It lowered my blood pressure nicely.


November 16, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , ,

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