I once heard a band director who was asked to speak to a football team before a big game. He talked about how the game was a celebration of the work and dedication during practice the weeks before. Much like a concert is a celebration of the rehearsals before. The point was that the focus shouldn’t be on the performance, but the development (or in more cliche terms, the journey not the destination). A great lesson, and one that’s usually pretty obvious to anyone in band.
Shel Silverstein is a huge creative inspiration to many. One of his stories called, “The Missing Piece” demonstrates the “journey” adage extremely well. It’s a classic as is most of his work. If you ever feel like you just can’t ever “get there” this book will make you feel like you can still conquer the world.
If you haven’t read any of Shel’s work and you are an art & music person, you’re really missing out on one the great true renaissance men of modern times. Grab a copy of his poem books and you’ll find life’s wisdom in almost every page.
On a personal note, I’m really a huge Shel Silverstein fan. My grandmother went to high school with him which started my fascination when I was young. However, I recently came across my grandmother’s high school yearbook and saw that Shel signed it with a small note! Very cool for a fan. Just thought I’d share.
Usually we meet our heroes and they aren't what we expected them to be. Sometimes we see our directors and they aren't we thought they'd be. That doesn't mean heroes aren't heroic, or directors can't be inspirational. It just means they're imperfect…like they're supposed to be.
- The 13th Chair
A reminder of the day I realized my director, my mentor, my friend, was not the man I built him up to be. Then I realized it didn’t matter.
Music people on tumblr are the absolute best! Thank you to all who have written me or reblogged! I'm responding as fast as I can, promise. SO glad friends talked me into Tumblr, what was I thinking?! Something big and Tumblr-tastic coming in 2012!
Band heaven is a lot like regular heaven, except the LESS you practice the better you get. Band hell is nothing like regular hell. You have to play in sweltering heat, with extremely painful uniforms, to a crowd that doesn't appreciate you...oh wait...
Why do band directors use batons? Lame. I say the next time the director gets up on the podium they need to reach up behind their backs and pull out a barbarian sword. Conduct with THAT and see the emotion pour out of the band. Director Badass.
I looked over at the horizon and saw the most beautiful hues of purple and blue scraped with a few lines of orange that got darker as the sky got higher. The moon was low but almost full. You could almost hear a soft hum coming from it. I closed my eyes for only a few moments, but long enough to see my journey in its entirety. I remembered smiling, often. I remembered crying, but always being comforted in knowing that I wasn’t alone. I remembered growing, and thinking that without everyone I would be a different person. One less fulfilled. I slowly opened my eyes and saw the lights one more time. A light breeze hit the back of my neck, and the downbeat came. My last show began…with a new journey on the horizon.
True leaders influence not only without a title, but ESPECIALLY without a title.
I was a sure thing. That’s what everyone was saying. My senior year I would be Drum Major. I nailed the audition. Had unbelievable presence, conducted flawlessly, nailed the commands, and dare I say looked strikingly handsome while doing it (Looking back though, I’m not sure the flannel shirt and ripped jeans were as dashing as I remembered). Even the people auditioning with me told me they thought I did great. My shoulder was sore from all the pats on the back (especially from Liz who was a shot put champion tenor sax player and clearly didn’t know her own strength…HUGE right arm, creepily disproportionate from her left. Seriously, like she does nothing but worked out that one arm. Left arm, normal. Right arm, Popeye). The next day I walked in to see the results and everyone was looking at me. I started to get really excited. I looked at the board and my name wasn’t up there. WTF! Although back then there wasn’t WTF, so it was more like “That’s Bogus.”
You could tell that director was expecting a reaction, I gave him a great teenage “ticked off” look…you know the one. It says, I will hold a grudge the rest of my life towards you. I left to go to class. Later that day he called me into his office to chat. Here’s how it went down:
"I want to quit."
"No you don’t"
"Yes I do."
"The band needs you."
"Ok let me re-phrase, you need the band."
I walked out and sat down at rehearsal.
My senior year I had one the most influential lessons of my life (Of course taught to me by my band director). How to lead when you’re not in charge. And I did. Members of the band looked up to me and I had a tremendous amount of influence. I was friends with the Drum Majors and found it personally important that they succeed. I realized that true leaders influence not only without a title, but ESPECIALLY without a title.
Whether or not people follow you when they don’t have to, is the true test of a leader.