Tales from Band Camp II

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I am now a member of the McAllen Symphonic Band. Laura’s Dad (Art) has been playing with them for a number of years. Laura and I occasionally would attend the concerts, but since my renewed interest in playing trombone, we’ve attended every concert they have had. After I got my new trombone, I have been thinking it would be nice to join the band and start playing in that type of environment again. Well, with the help of Art, that has all come to past.

On April 15th I had my first practice with the band. The rehearsals they are currently having are what they call “readings”. Where they read through pieces of music, one after the other just to find material for the next season of concerts (2013-2014). So in other words, they are doing what I hated to do while in the EHS band – sight read! So, needless to say I was very nervous. In fact, I was nervous pretty much all that day leading up to the practice.

I got there about 30 minutes early to try to help get things setup (chairs and music stands) but all of that was pretty much done, so I had a chance to talk with Art and he introduced me to several people, including two of the other trombone players in the band. They figured I would be playing the 2nd trombone part so I setup my stuff next to them (they were playing 3rd trombone and bass) and started to do a bit of mouthpiece buzzing to get warmed up. Just before the rehearsal started the 1st trombone players sat down and then I started to even get more nervous. Vern, then 3rd trombone sitting next to me helped me relax a bit when he said he was 80 years old, he chops were not as good as they used to be, his hearing was not as good as it used to be and his vision was not as good as it used to be. Still, I think he played me under the table!.

The “reading” was a fast paced run through of a lot of songs. Pretty much a blur for me now. I would say it was probably 8-12 songs, ranging from easy to fairly complicated (for me anyways). As we started I was very impressed with not only the 1st trombone players sight reading and playing abilities, but both Vern and John’s (bass trombone) both were doing great as well. The 1st trombone players were playing all the parts and doing it really good, whereas I think I was only able to played about 40% of the notes that night. I started out really bad, but it got a bit easier as the night went on.

Once it was all over, I was glad I still had some chops left and wasn’t completely blown out. I packed up my stuff and went headed home on a bit of a high. It was great to be playing in a trombone section again, in a full band. Yes, I was nervous, but at the same time it was a lot of fun and it felt great being back in that environment. When I got home I told Laura that I wished they practiced every night (not only because I ended up having fun, but because I really need the practice!).