As some of you may be following me closely, I have been very open about wanting to join Longhorn Band. I would like to give you a journey into my Band Week, and how it went for me.
It started with a picnic and a marching clinic on Tuesday. This was optional but it helped with learning the basics and meeting the section leaders. I went to the picnic and ate hot dogs while chilling with the clarinets. I went to the clinic and learned the first two parts of my marching audition. It was not a bad marcher, I just was not snappy enough when marking time. Taps drill, a signature marching style for Longhorn Band, was very hard for me. It involves keeping your knees up and your toes pointed down with every step. If done right, it looks like a horse trotting along. I had trouble keeping my knees up and my toes down.
The next day was the real first day of Band Week. I had to register and be welcomed into the band. They formally introduced the staff, section leaders and all of the organizations in the band. They tried to make it quirky, fun and interesting. I missed the quirky fun spirit band members have. Then we ate lunch provided by Tau Beta Sigma, the band sorority. It was sandwiches, chips and cookies. Then we started playing our music. That’s when it hit me how hard it was going to be. Even the warm-ups were beyond by my playing ability. The music I thoroughly enjoyed, but I struggled with some of the fast rhythms and fingerings. I have heard Texas Fight hundreds of times at football games, but I never knew how hard it was to play. The clarinet part was increasingly difficult with a fast tempo and many challenging rhythms. I found out I had to learn Texas Fight by memory and part of an arrangement of Conga by Gloria Estefan. We ran through other traditional music such as March Grandioso, and Deep in the Heart of Texas. It was hard. At least the school song, the Eyes of Texas was not too hard. Even though I had seen the music beforehand, the speed and the skill at what I had to learn threw me off. It got even worse during sectionals. There was a break afterwards and I didn’t made back home to my apartment to rest and head back in time with my curiosity of a new building on campus and a rain shower. Then, we had hot dogs for dinner.Finally, we had a marching rehearsal in the Bubble, an indoor practice facility. I had to go over what I learned in the clinic, and learn some more marching techniques. I still struggled with being snappy, and I had trouble moving in the quick tempo. The rehearsal was hard but the first day was over.
The next day the prospectives went to the stadium and learned more drill for our marching audition. Once we learned everything, we went over it many times. I tried to march in time and be snappy while playing music. It was easier every rep, but I was still being told by section leaders what I needed to work on. Then we went to more sectionals, full band practice, and marching practice. All the while, I felt more anxious as my skill paled in comparison to my fellow prospectives. I was super tense. I found out what I had to do to audition marching and playing wise. Marching didn’t seem too bad, but playing was rather difficult. At the end of the day, there was squad marching practice in the garage. We were to practice our audition with a squad of three to four clarinet players. This was very individualized, but also disorganized. It was too stressful for me to cancel out competing squads rehearsing and see what I needed to work on. This individualized approach is not helpful when the place you rehearse has too many things going at once.
That night I was so tense. There was an optional sectional after the marching practice. I tried to play, but nearly had a meltdown and an anxiety attack during the sectional. I left early, and the TA leading the sectional recommended for me to sleep. There’s a point at which I could no longer improve by the bounds necessary. It was a diminishing returns situation. I slept okay, but I woke up many times in the middle of the night, with the music playing over and over. I told my friends to pray for me, and I might need some help.
That morning we had more squad practice and Marching Auditions. I didn’t do that bad at marching auditions, but I felt my heart beat out of my chest. One hard part was over. The next test was a playing audition, one on one with a TA. I locked myself into a practice and rehearsed the music for an hour. I messed up so many times, and I didn’t know to how improve. My mind focused on how bad I was, and I could barely relax. I had to leave and hang out with other clarinets who weren’t practicing. They were sending memes to each other. I joined them and it helped me relax a little. Once we had lunch and I practiced a little more before the audition. I practiced with some of the other clarinets auditioning to see what I was up against and see what I could improve on without my cloudy judgement. Then the playing audition came. I froze up and squawked out the best I could do. It wasn’t perfect or felt even close to where I needed to be. I was living on a prayer if I made it.
That evening, results came out and I didn’t make it. I didn’t want to cry, I was upset at myself. I called my mom told her, and told some of my friends. It took time, but I was not that depressed about it. Distraught was a better feeling. It was beyond words at the time, but I understood then it was right. I have been coping ever since
Now, I plan to watch the band with more respect than I had before. I’m not going to let this journey be a waste. I tore myself apart, and I need to build myself up. I love to play the clarinet, and it can be enjoyable. I would love to stay involved by maybe joining Pep Band and connecting with those I know in the band. No matter what, I do not want to stop playing clarinet, like I did three or four years ago. Like in the parable of talents, I have been given many talents. I want to multiply them rather than bury them in the ground.
The Nerd of May