This one goes out to the beltless ones, the ones who forget their music at home, the ones who scrounge half-clean dress shirts from the dirty laundry, the ones who forget to bow, the ones who wear their ties half-loosened (ironically, lazily, cluelessly, who knows how?), the ones who tap their toes more loudly than they play their instrument.
We see you.
This one goes out to the moms and dads and step parents and grands of all sorts who patiently suffer through twelve–wait, make that nineteen–small group musical ensembles and then grin from ear to ear at the trombone quartet kicking it old-school on “Hot Cross Buns.” Or the mixed brass ensemble gettin’ jiggy with “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” yo. Or the trio that actually sounds in tune and–wait for it–harmonizes during the “Trumpet Voluntary.”
This one goes out to the iPhone hordes and the Android legions, the videographers, the scrapbookers, the memento makers–chroniclers of this 21st century, this rural mid-Atlantic region, this ‘Murica.
What would we do without you?
For the guy who was a trumpet but then got braces and switched to the baritone; for that one sixth grade girl who plays the French horn–the only French horn; for the tall girl hiding behind her long hair, the skater dude on the snare drum, and the impossibly pretty clarinet who always dresses well; for the cool kids and the weird kids and the gamers and the geeks and the nerds:
We give thanks.
But most of all, this one goes out to you, Mr. Band Director Man.
We know you play, like, twelve instruments. We know you own all of Dylan’s albums on original vinyl. We know you accompanied Wynton Marsalis on piano that one time in Cleveland when a snowstorm delayed the backup band. We know you mess around with microtonal music on the weekends, no big deal it’s just for fun, but I guess, yeah, it’s kind of technically complicated [shrug]. We know you were admitted to Juilliard but the financial aid didn’t quite come through, that your contact at the record label didn’t have as much influence as he pretended to have, and that you sometimes dream about Broadway…in Technicolor.
But we also know more than this.
We know that you introduce this 5th/6th grade band and their songs without a shred of self-protecting irony. We know that you treat each of our children with respect. We know that you dignify this space–this hallowed space of a public school auditorium–with your professionalism and courtesy. We know that you spend evenings and weekends and early mornings preparing lesson plans and writing emails to us and connecting kids with the extra support services they need.
We know that even though you look great in your hipster glasses and your double-vented suit jacket, you still don’t get paid enough and those student loan monthly bills are relentless.
We know all of this, and therefore, we who are about to spend the next two hours sitting on these uncomfortable auditorium seats and craning our necks for a glimpse of HunterMaddoxPaigeHannah salute you, Mr. Band Director Man.
Because you’re the stuff of legend.
Sarina Gruver Moore teaches English and writing at Grove City College in Pennsylvania.