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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Drumline

I watched the movie, "Drumline," for the second or third time tonight. Like the movie a lot. How could they miss? Most movies have action, and then add drama by adding music. This movie has almost all music, with, naturally, a really strong drumline.


Again it's about teaching. This time, it's more focused on the students
than the teacher, them learning about themselves and what they can do
working together.

In particular, watching the segment at the end and the big marching band
competition, I remembered watching a similar competition with my Dad, a
very long time ago. My Dad served in World War II, as I've mentioned,
having started out in the Minnesota National Guard before the war, in the
communications section. After the war, he also was a drum major for the
marching band made up of veterans. I remember seeing him in several
parades, and I remember playing as a kid with his drum major's special
baton, with this little flashlight thing in the end, for marching at
night.

So Dad was looking forward to watching the marching band competition, and
I looked forward to watching it with him.

It was awful.

Dad didn't like it, because this was all the college marching bands, and
they didn't do things in the more traditional way he'd done. Military
marching is a very different thing than the synchronized dancing bands the
colleges do for halftime. The music was the new stuff us Young People
listened to, not real marches, and he didn't like that either. He was
deeply disappointed. This was something he knew well, and they spoiled it
for him.

For me, well, I like a well-done marching band at halftime of a game.
Once. It's very impressive. Twice, well, that was okay. Three times, oh
my God, not again. And there must have been a dozen bands. And that
Young People's Music was being played by marching bands, for Pete's sake.
Over and over and over again. It all blended together in my mind. But
neither Dad nor I was willing to quit -- we both had something we weren't
willing to give up on.

So it's a good memory. I miss my Dad, he died when I was 19 or so. I
often wish I could get his take on things that are happening in my life
now. I think a lot of this stuff would have been recognizeable to him.
And maybe he could have made sense of stuff I just don't get.

I was actually in band in Junior High. I started out first trombone,
ended up fifth trombone, with my friend Greg Gumm taking the first chair,
and deservedly so. I really sucked at trombone. Didn't practice enough,
and when I did practice, I really didn't Get the instrument. But that was
something my Dad wanted me to do and do well at.

I think my Dad would have liked the movie, "Drumline." Dr. Lee is an old-
school sort of conductor, though not of the sort of music my Dad would
have liked. And dang those strung drums, that deep rhythm that in a live
performance rattles your bones and makes your feet bounce. That's what
it's supposed to sound like.

Getting older sucks. Don't much approve of the alternative, though.

Later.

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