Yesterday was Woodland's 48th annual holiday parade, and just like every other year, I've been excited to see it coming. Not because I actually go to the parade. Let's face it, I'm not really a big-crowds-and-standing-around-to-watch-things-drive-by-slowly type of person. No, I'm excited that the parade is here because it means the students at the middle school in the next block are done practicing for it and I will not have to hear their medley of Christmas music until next year.
The middle school marching band is the perfect storm of a bunch of things I can't stand, namely:
- Christmas music
- Marching bands
- Music played very badly
- Loud music played in the street in front of my house while I'm trying to sleep
First the disclaimer: These are middle school kids. They only get two weeks (at most, depending on the weather) to learn how to march and play at the same time. I know it's really not their fault, but holy crap, if I have to listen to that four song Christmas medley again any time before next December, there will be hell to pay.
So here's the review of this year's band:
First off, the marching:
I initially thought the band instructor was just getting his yayas when he was still yelling "left...left...left, right, left" well into the second week, but then I saw the kids outside when I was walking the dogs. Turns out there was a reason he was reminding them. Perhaps he should have clued in the guy on the front left corner as to which foot was his left foot. Maybe that would have helped.
Then there was the kid that is either a musical genius who will go on to write complicated jazz music, or a musical moron who will be the worst dancer in the history of white people. Somehow this kid was managing to play the music and stroll to a completely different beat. I dare you to try that sometime. It's a lot harder than it looks. In general though, I have to say that it's fine to move to the beat of your own drum, but not when there is an actual drum section three feet behind you.
And then there was the saxophone player... While technically stepping in time with the music, he looked like he was imitating Snoop Dogg (er, I mean, Snoop Lion now I guess) walking up to receive an award. Not because he was black (because he wasn't), but because he managed to make each step about eight different moves with knee dips and hip pops. Also, if I really wanted to find some weed amongst that group, I'd probably start with the sax case. Just sayin'.
It's a medley of Christmas music. There's a lot of really, really crappy Christmas music and anything that didn't start out that way gets moved to the crappy pile after I've heard it for the five thousandth time. Which is to say that there is no good Christmas music and I have been known to avoid all stores from Thanksgiving to the end of December just to get away from it all.
Note to the band director: giving a run of sixteenth notes to the brass section while everyone else cuts out is pretty gutsy. Especially when your brass section consists of two consistently out of tune trumpets, a beginning trombone, and a baritone. It's hard to get crisp notes out of the brass section during the best of times, and this was definitely the worst of times. Next year just pick one of the notes and have them stick with it and maybe it won't sound like a cow falling down a flight of stairs.
The woodwinds (by which I mean about fifteen clarinets and a couple of flutes) weren't bad, but since you can't actually hear the clarinets in a band, it doesn't really matter. (I say this as someone who played clarinet in a marching band. You know all this bitterness had to come from somewhere, right?)
I was pretty excited this year about the percussion section as I lay in my bed at seven in the morning. In years past they've given the musical Forest Gumps of the world the bass drum and cymbals (because that way they don't have to read music or try to play in tune), but that's been a disaster because those are the two instruments you can hear from half a mile away, and the Forest Gumps of the world can't keep time.
This year I noticed early on that the percussion section sounded much, much better than in years past. It took me two days to notice that it was because they just had a snare drum and xylophone and didn't have either a bass drum or cymbals. Sadly, two days before the parade they flushed out two extra members and once again we had the crashing of cymbals at random moments during the songs. The bass drummer still wasn't as impaired as the one two years ago (a kid who seemed to be playing in time to a drunkard's walk), so at least it wasn't all bad.
Anyhow, there you have it. Not as bad as some years, but I'd still donate money if they'd start practicing somewhere else.