Sunday, April 30, 2006

hula hoop

I was online today and suddenly got an IM from a guy that was in marching band with me for a year or two. I don't really know him; he's pretty good friends with some of my friends, but for the most part he's just an acquaintance. He was never in my section in marching band, and to be honest I've really only talked to him a handful of times.

W: this might seem lame.. but I am honestly tired of being a regular marching band... I'm not expecting any major differences because it takes everyone just not a handful of people to do that.. But I remember when you are section leader that you made everything really organized for you section *as well as others* and people respected you..
W: and tips or advice?

He typed this, and I just kind of sat there for a minute. Sure, there were a couple of grammar mistakes... but wow, hearing from someone who wasn't even in my section or group of friends that he saw me as a respected and good section leader made me feel really good.

For those of you that don't know me (in case there's actually someone random reading this), I started band the summer before fifth grade playing the french horn. In 9th grade, I opted to try marching band because they told us we had to march one season before we could *just* be in concert band. I didn't think I wanted to march- didn't really see the point- but I agreed to do the mandatory season because I wanted to stay in concert band.

As it turned out, by my senior year, I was marching my fourth season as mellophone section leader and band council president. A lot of what I love about marching is the feeling of teamwork you end up with. Sure, the practices can be long... and hot... and tiring. Sure, the competitions take up all Saturday, every Saturday. Sure, you'll probably get yelled at at least once during the season. But when the competition comes along and you perform the show- with each person doing their own individual part that amazingly fits in with everyone else's individual parts- there's an amazing feeling of unity. All the hard work you've put in somehow becomes worth it when the group performs an exhilarating show.

I was proud to become a leader of our band. Indiana has some very good marching bands, many of which routinely place high in national competitions. When our band traveled to Ohio, we were grand champions (two years in a row, I believe)... in our own state, we very rarely won. Still, I felt it was an organization I could be proud to be in. We worked hard, but we also had fun. We were willing to try something different and do a 'weird' or innovative show. We had much less money than many of our competitors, and because the classes were divided on school size and not band size, some of our competitors were two or three times bigger than us in size (and therefore had the capacity to be *much* louder). And while I was in the band, there were many really good student leaders for me to look up to (usually, they were older, but not always), and when I became a leader, I tried my best to learn from them because I really, really respected them.

I miss band-- but even though I certainly enjoy playing the french horn, that's not what I miss most. What I really miss is that feeling of unity, the people, and the camaraderie of the group. We'd been through a lot together, and most of my best friends in high school were either members of band and/or drama (another group that I often spent enough time with to develop an extremely close-knit relationship).

I felt like I put a lot into the band while I was in it. It becomes like a family, in many ways, and this year it felt strange but good to go back and visit the band (marching, concert, jazz, and winterguard- yes, I visited all of them). I was glad to be a leader, both of the mello section and the band council, but I really did give a lot of time and work to the band. I'm not completely satisfied with my leadership roles; here arte a lot of things I wish I would've done better. But I still feel like I invested a lot of time and effort.

Damn, I started writing with the intention of explaining just how good it felt for someone to have not only noticed, but to have remembered me as a good leader. To be honest, though, now that I'm writing, I'm not sure I can really put it into words. It's not that I became a leader or tried to be a good example to others because I wanted someone to tell me I did a good job, but hearing that someone who didn't even know me thought that- and a year and a half later when he wants to be a good leader asks me for advice- it just feels absolutely amazing. I feel appreciated, and proud, and like I actually made a difference to an organization that meant- and still means- a lot to me. I know it's just one person, but I also know how I felt about some of the leaders I looked up to. And to think that someone might look at me that way is one of the best compliments I could ever receive.

I only hope I can make that kind of impact again sometime.

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