12. February 2019 · Comments Off on More Of Conductors and Kindness · Categories: Ramble

This is part two of my short little series. At this point in my writing I am in high school.

I had been warned that the band director in high school was scary. I heard that he yelled a lot. I heard, as well, that he was very good and we had a very highly ranked group.

Those things were all true. We had three bands (A, B, and C). Everyone, of course, yearned to get into “A band”. We played a lot of orchestral transcriptions. We played some pretty good music. I learned a lot.

That director said horrible things to people. One example: a flutist was being yelled at so she started to cry. He then called her a baby and would occasionally look over and say, “Diapers, diapers, diapers,” and she’d cry some more. Yes. Really. Amazingly she never quit. One of the boys who was a bit of a prankster a very fun kid in junior high had some sort of encounter with the director while he was a freshman and the last I saw of him near the band room he was crying. He never returned. The director took a boy by the collar and held him up against the wall. All four years he yelled and screamed. No parents stopped him. I think everyone thought he was just the artistic sort and, thus, behaved like a true artist. He was just an awful man.

And yet … he gave us all music lessons after school. He stayed late into the day so we could hang out and practice. He joked around with students.

And I was teacher’s pet.

So I was “safe”, while others were abused, and I don’t believe I fully understood just how horrendously they were treated.

Toward the end of the year we always held a surprise party for the director. We’d arrive early, getting someone to open the band room door for us, decorate the room, and have a lot of food and the smelly cheese he loved. We’d buy him a gift. It was called “[insert the director’s last name here} Day.”

So we loved our abuser. As so many do.

I also played (sporadically) in a youth orchestra. The director there was a bit of a screamer too, but no one seemed to take him too seriously. I just thought he was weird. One day, at a music camp, I was eating a snack. If I remember correctly I offered something to some friends and he wondered why I didn’t offer anything to him. So I offered the snack to him as well. He pinched my cheek and said he just wanted to see if I would sacrifice for him. Go figure. Powerful men … they love to know these things I guess. They play their games. We accept it. Or we did.

On the positive side, I did have a good private instructor (Hi, Bob Hubbard!) during high school. He was recommended by the band director, but was in no way like him. He was fun, helpful, informative, and I even practiced for him at times! (I was a very good faker back then, so I did get away with a lot.) Then, in my senior year, I also played in Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra. Bill Whitson was the director. He was wonderful. I credit him and that group, along with my private teacher, with my going into music.

So my high school years were full of joy of making music, but also full of yelling and screaming. The high school band director did continue to treat me well until I got into college and … horrors! … had a boyfriend. Then it was all over.

I’ll write about my college years soon. But now I’m weary.

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