This year, I decided to participate in the Homecoming alumni band for the first time. As a band member in college, the alumni band was so not cool, and homecoming was my least favorite game of the year. I distinctly remember being annoyed at how the old people didn't hold their horns level, and looked ridiculous both attempting and deciding to forego marching traditional step onto the field. They sounded bad, dealing with all the extra people at rehearsal slowed things down and was boring, and they used flip folders for their music. What I didn't understand was how incredibly fun it is for them! You don't have to be in fine physical form, you don't have to memorize the music, you don't have to learn a marching show — you just show up and play! And if you're lucky, some of your old friends are also there to help you remember the silly cheers and relive everyone's most embarrassing moments in band.
|Carly's tongue, Julie, and Becky headed to morning rehearsal.|
Leading up to the weekend, my friend Julie and I were really worried we wouldn't be able to play because it had been so long. We exchanged emails about how we really should get out our horns and practice, and how we had expected to receive music by now. Walking into rehearsal on Friday, I was sure I'd made a mistake and I should leave. I'm not going to lie, that first rehearsal was a little rough. But a few runs through the traditional songs reminded me that (most of them) weren't so hard for 3rd Trumpet, and I could still play them and remember the horn moves at the same time.
Game day was awesome, and that's saying something because it rained all day! Rehearsal and marching to the stadium were a bit chaotic — not a word I have ever associated with band before — but once we played on the steps of the stadium for the assembled masses, it felt right, and I was delighted to be back.
|Julie and I not at all nervous in the tunnel.|
"But we don't remember what yard line we are supposed to end up on!" we said.
"It'll be fine," he repeated.
It was fine, but we looked awful!
He also said he'd been back for more Homecomings than for games he had marched in college. This thought gave me pause. As fun as it was, maybe return trips should be used sparingly over the years so as not to eclipse the actual event. Or maybe the whole point is to remember and preserve tradition through making new memories during frequent returns, because the memories are going to slip away anyway.
|"Why are we soaking wet, Becky?" "Because we've been outside in the rain for hours, Rachel."|
But for that next time, I'm going to eschew the idea of practicing my trumpet beforehand. It doesn't matter what you sound like. Instead, I should consider lifting weights to reengage those arm muscles needed to hold my horn up for 5 minutes straight during a song. For extra credit, I could try to rememorize in which order to play those 5 notes for any given traditional song (I heart 3rd part!).
I was surprised that I was not one bit nervous in the tunnel, which was a welcome departure from tradition! Before the physically demanding pregame performances in college, I would feel very nervous, which manifested itself in yawning and irrational, sudden fatigue. This time, I don't know if I forgot that I would be performing in front of a 100,000 people (probably fewer due to the weather, but I'm using science math (work joke)), or if I felt safely anonymous in the disorganized throng of alumni band members. The spectators are pretty far away, most of them don't care, and none of them have a clue what you're supposed to be doing either.
I was also surprised that so many of my non-band friends expressed that they were proud of me for participating. Fact: I have pretty great friends. But I had no idea I could elicit their pride by playing a trumpet poorly and "marching" in a disorganized mass across a football field. However, I am honored to have gratified them by my participation.
|Becky, Andrew, and Rachel: a handsome trio of alumni.|