Update 22 January 2008: Okay, a lot of you are showing up at this post trying to listen to the Liberty Bell March. There is a decent (but not a marching band) version here, or visit Amazon.com or iTunes to hear a brief excerpt.
Early morning, almost a picture perfect fall day with clear sky, cool air and chirping birds.
The high school marching band is practicing.
The school is roughly a mile away, just below the hills, and when the atmospherics are right in the fall, I can hear the beat of the drums, and occasionally, the brass. I love it.
My own high school was only 3 blocks from my house, and hearing the marching band practice around 7 am was always a thrill. I loved the reverberation of the percussion, and the anticipation of going to a Friday night football game.
Not that I went for the football. I went for the band.
My high school's football team was traditionally terrible but the marching band and jazz band won countless awards under the tireless direction of a terrific leader, so they were always great fun to watch and to listen to. I had a lot of friends in the band, and between my sophomore and junior years, casually dated at least five different guys in the band (most of whom I was already tutoring in math and science anyway, so the dating was more friendly than romantic). Friday night home games were a tremendous social occasion.
It was always a bonus when there was a post-game dance in the boys' gym; we'd get up huge mobs and dance away en masse to whatever the local radio DJs who'd been hired for the occasion could be persuaded to put on the turntables that night. It was generally a blast.
I never had the chance to study music in school, which irritated me no end. Fortunately, the son and daughter are required to take instrumental music in fifth and sixth grade. Both study clarinet, and the son actually got pretty good, while the daughter has only just begun, so we are enduring a great deal of squeaking in the evening. I banned a lot of the possibilities, including trumpet, trombone and violin. The boy across the street was just unbearable to listen to when he started studying trumpet, though I'm pleased to report that not only did I hear him this morning marching about at the high school, he also tried out for the all-high school band for the Rose Parade.
If we see him marching down Colorado Boulevard on New Year's Day, all those ear-shattering garage practice sessions so many years ago will have been worth it.
Go listen to some good music: "The Liberty Bell March" from the album The Marches of John Philip Sousa by John Philip Sousa.