Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

The 31-Day Blog Challenge, Day Twenty-Seven: The Welcome Will Not End

Today’s writing prompt:

31 DAY BLOG CHALLENGE, DAY 27: “what makes me feel better, always”:


At the end of a long day…

At the end of a stupid day…

After I’ve marinated in mind-numbing or terrifying political talk and need reassurance that it’s not the entire world that’s descending into madness…

If I can have a conversation with a good friend – in person, by phone, by Skype (did that one time ever), via Facebook status comment thread … however I do it …

That makes the light at the end of the tunnel … not be an oncoming train anymore.


Sometime late in my high school career, I happened upon this couplet, from Abraham Cowley’s Of Myself. It resonated with me then, and it certainly still does (such that it made it into my Favorite Quotes list a couple of weeks ago):


Acquaintance I would have, but when’t depends / Not on the number but the choice of friends.

May 27, 2016 Posted by | blogging, friends | , , , , | Leave a comment

On A Lighter Note

Acquaintance I would have, but when ‘t depends / Not on the number but the choice of friends.

         –Abraham Cowley


I don’t know what it was, but there was something different about DMA at UMass this summer.

Let’s be clear: my work with the George N. Parks Drum Major Academy isn’t really work. There are things to do, there is physical exertion to be exerted, there is teaching (and learning) to be accomplished … but every once in a while there are “gigs” that one looks forward to for something beyond just the paycheck. This is always one of them.

Let’s also be clear: I’ve done 32 of these clinics now. Sixteen summers, two per summer; math class. Every single one has offered something that I could take away, knowing that it would be a memory that would stay with me permanently.

Sometimes it’s been the success of a student who at the beginning of the week was looking very like a rookie. Sometimes it’s been making a connection with a staff colleague whom I had not known very well, before the week began. Sometimes it’s been a weather event. Sometimes it’s been some other unforeseen event, and how the staff and students responded to it. Sometimes it’s been a practical joke for the ages. Sometimes, it’s been one “line of dialogue” by a staff member. But always at least one thing.

Let’s also be clear: every summer I get to work at the DMA clinics located at West Chester University in Pennsylvania and UMass-Amherst. West Chester is a day shorter than UMass. If I’m analyzing students’ conducting video, it’s only for two 40-minute sessions per student instead of three. So comparatively, my contact time with individual students is a little less at West Chester – not disastrously, but it does give me a bit more opportunity to check in with UMass DMA students. Nobody’s fault – it is what it is.

With all that said: again … this most recent UMass DMA week had something different going on.

Maybe it was kicked off by the first video afternoon. Western Massachusetts was suddenly under a tornado warning, and the word went out to staff: keep your student groups right where they are – DON’T send them walking outside to the next stop in their three-classroom rotation. So my group, code-named “Starship B, TV 1”, stayed put, and got a 70-minute block to work on conducting, rather than just 40 minutes. By the end of that session, I was really good with names, even when the kids’ nametags were facing the wrong way.

Maybe it was coincidence that caused many of my TV-room students to also comprise the four six-member squads with whom I worked in the mornings, during squad competitions. By the time I parked myself in front of Squads 5 through 8 at the week’s closing exercises, I felt like I knew these characters better than usual.

There are no empirical measurements that I can use to determine whether it’s been a great summer for those connections.

But there is one non-scientific determinant that is making a serious play for attention as a unit of measurement.

I keep getting Facebook friend requests.

Relatively speaking, a lot of ’em.

Since I jumped into that social media environment several years ago, I’ve acquired an average of something like 0.75 to 1.00 new Friends following each DMA clinic. Someone remembered a piece of conducting advice, or a good joke, or a dumb joke, or just a smile, that I may have thrown out there … or heeded my regular call to “keep in touch with us! We want to know how your season is going!”, and followed through.

And yes, I do have Facebook friend privacy protocols that I put into play. There are some elements of my social media life that high school folks probably don’t need to see, or would want to!, at least till they get into and out of college, or onto the DMA Impact staff full of college band student leaders. Maybe not even then!

But I have had the privilege of keeping in touch with some very fine people this way, lately. They’ve taken what the DMA curriculum has to offer and run with it … and often, their success is not confined to the marching rehearsal field. Some of them are genuinely among the sharpest online wits, or kindest-sounding people, or both, that I know.

We’ll see what this summer’s response will end up being, not just with regard to “number, but the choice”, as Mr. Cowley wrote. But so far … fifteen.

I am humbled.

August 13, 2014 Posted by | DMA, drum major, Facebook, friends, marching band, music, social media | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More Favorites, Rescued from the Clutches of Facebook

With 20% More Thanksgiving Day Appropriateness!


Favorite Quotes:


“Do you think that the things people make fools of themselves about are any less real and true than the things they behave sensibly about?”

–George Bernard Shaw, Candide, Act I


“Absence is to love what wind is to fire; it extinguishes the small, it enkindles the great.”

–Comte. de Bussy-Rabutin


“Acquaintance I would have, but when’t depends

Not on the number but the choice of friends.”

–Abraham Cowley, “Of Myself”


“But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,

All losses are restored and sorrows end.”

–William Shakespeare, Sonnets


“Contrary to popular belief, saxophones are actually percussion instruments meant to be played with hammers. Large hammers.”



“Give me all you’ve got, then crescendo!!!”

–Leonard Bernstein


“One good thing about being young is that you are not experienced enough to know that you cannot possibly do the things you are doing.”

–Gene Brown


“Inside every older person is a younger person wondering ‘What the hell happened?’”



“No one is under a moral obligation to remain in the vicinity of, to keep working with, or even to keep living with, another person whose behavior is demoralizing, severely upsetting or stress-producing.”

–Robert M. Branson, Ph.D, Coping With Difficult People


“People would say, ‘Well we’ve done it that way in the past,’ and I’d say, ‘Well that’s why you’ve lost 10 years in a row.’”

–John Calipari


“Singers are underrated: while nobody thinks they can play the French horn, everybody thinks they can sing.”

–Peter Schickele


“Slimy? Mud hole? My HOME this is!”



“The closer you get to the fire, the more you get burned.”

–Billy Joel


“The game of life is not so much holding a good hand as playing a poor one.”

–H.T. Leslie

“The toughest thing about success is that you’ve got to keep on being a success.”

–Irving Berlin


“We are the cockroaches, and Heidi is the flashlight.”

–an unnamed West Chester DMA staffer; unnamed because I don’t remember exactly who it was.


“What really flatters a man is that you find him worth flattering.”

–George Bernard Shaw


“Her singing reminds me of a cart coming downhill with the brake on.”

–Sir Thomas Beecham on an unidentified soprano in Die Walkyre


“A friend is one who you’ve just met; yet have known forever.”

–my friend Gina Vanaria


“There’s nothing like facing the prospect of making new friends to make one treasure ‘old’ friends.”

–my friend Nancy Locklin

November 25, 2010 Posted by | DMA, literature, music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments