14 Songs in 14 Days: Day 4, Middle & High School Band

Recap: I was challenged by one of my friends in EMU Choir to participate in one of those “14 Songs in 14 Days” kind of things, where you list or discuss 14 pieces of music that have had a profound impact on your life! Seeing as to how I have an abundance of time on my hands that I’m using only semi-usefully to this point in the quarantine/ isolation, I figured why not step up my game a bit and use this challenge as the theme of a blog post series. For the entire series, click here.

I actually had a hard time thinking of what to pick for my self-imposed chronological trip through my personal musical memory lane today! I’ve been trying to think up what music from my middle school years made a lasting impact on me or shaped my life in some way, and I’m kinda coming up dry… (and can we all agree that middle school is the most awkward time for all humanity, and thus it’s okay that I’ve done a good job of blocking it out of my mind?!)

But I must prevail for you, o valiant few readers! And so I’ve come up with a couple of ideas.

Middle school was the time when I started to develop my own musical identity, somewhat separate from the musical influences of my family and church—and even my early schooling, come to think of it, because we did have music class and choir in K-5, but it was all largely in the same genre of music that’s developmentally appropriate for young children. But by middle school kids are wandering around trying to find their place in the awkward world and starting to branch out, and for me that took a couple of forms that would have lengthy impacts on my life: 1) I joined middle school band in 6th grade and started playing the trumpet (and became no small obsession from then until college…) and 2) at the encouragement of one of my best friends, I picked up the bass guitar sometime in either 7th or 8th grade, though I didn’t really become decent at it until high school. Perhaps I’ll delve more into the rock, funk, blues, and other music that shaped the bass guitar playing (and high school garage band days!) in tomorrow’s post?

But I’m not sure any one (or two) songs stand out from that period. Early band is all about learning the fundamentals of music and how to play your instrument, and nothing that came out of the 6th grade band book is going to qualify as “life changing!” (With my apologies to Mr. Tucker and Mr. Farmer…)

But beginning in 7th grade, due to either a shortage of competent high school band kids or maybe the directors’ seeing some future potential in me (or some combination thereof) I was selected to join the high school marching band, not unheard of for select 8th graders but a pretty rare thing at that time for a 7th grader! Suddenly I was thrust into the world of very old and very scary high schoolers [never mind the fact that they were mostly just angstier/horomonally challenged versions of middle schoolers—they were so big.] But I took a plunge and ended up, by the time high school was all said and done, one of the biggest band nerds in school: marching band for six years (so many that I lost track of which fieldshows went with which year…), high school jazz band from 8th grade on, 1st chair and trumpet section leader all four years of high school… Dang, I was such a nerd. (And really, what’s changed?)

So since I can’t settle on just one song from that period that greatly shaped my musical life, I’m giving you a couple different options for your listening pleasure tonight.

The first, in keeping with my incredible love of jazz during that time period (though ironically, this phased out as I’ve gotten older and shifted more and more toward classical music!), I give you one of the most challenging pieces we ever attempted to tackle in jazz band: Buddy Rich’s jazz standard Channel One Suite. It. Was. Tough. We asked Mr. Farmer (the jazz band director) if we could play it…probably every year. I think we pulled it off maybe twice during my time there, and I don’t have a recording of it from then. So enjoy this amazing (24 minute! ours wasn’t nearly so long…) version played live by the Buddy Rich Band.

The second option I’m going to leave with you as indicative of the entire trumpet-playing, marching band period is the one marching band field show I happen to know is on YouTube (because I had a recording of it from some video project in high school and I uploaded it to my own YouTube channel a while back!) Enjoy the 2003 Westview High School field show called Song of the South. For the record…I won’t feel bad if you don’t listen to the full versions of either of these! 😆😂

2 thoughts on “14 Songs in 14 Days: Day 4, Middle & High School Band”

  1. Gosh, what memories of band competitions! I was always proud of your solos…never thought I would get to hear you play again. Thanks for including the YouTube video!


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