It all happened on a Monday at around 4:30p. m. The audition was supposed to go perfectly. I had practiced the music over and over again. I knew it by heart and could play it at a moment’s notice. But it didn’t go as planned. That’s the one thing that I remember most, things don’t always go as planned. About a month before the audition, we got the music. Our band director, Mr. Brockman, called all of the percussionists into the other room. He began to hand out packets to us. When I received my packet, I began to flip through the music. As | flipped through it, I discovered what it was for.
There were five instruments, mallets, snare, tenors, bass, and cymbals. This could only mean one thing, drumline. I decided that I would audition for tenors, bass, and mallets. Over the course of a month, I practiced the music diligently. The mallet part was the easiest to practice, as I own a xylophone. The part for bass drum was a bit harder to practice. I don’t own a marching bass, so | practiced the rhythm on my snare drum as a substitute. The tenor part was the hardest to practice. I didn’t own any tenors, and practicing the rhythm on a snare wouldn’t help because the part called for four drums.
Luckily, I had the perfect place to practice it, or so I thought. The flooring in my basement is made of a rubbery material, and the design on it is arranged in the same way that bricks are stacked in a wall. This pattern is similar to the layout of tenors, and the rebound that I got off of the flooring was similar to that produced by a snare. This made the flooring my optimal solution for practicing the tenor part. Eventually, the day of the audition came. After school got out, I met of with all but three of the percussionists that intended to further their musical career.
One of these people was Matthew Powell, another was Jesse Climie, who didn’t know that we were required to audition, and the third was a traitor that was moving to Kirksville and had no reason to audition. All of us that were present, I believe that there were five including myself, headed off to the high school band room here the auditions were being held. As we were walking on the sidewalk, I noticed a fairly deep hole in the sidewalk up ahead. I turned to the person walking beside me and said, “Watch out for that pothole up ahead, Austin. “Do Ilook like an idiot to you, Alex? ” he asked in a raspy voice laced with sarcasm. “I don’t feel comfortable answering that question,” I said equally as sarcastic.
“But seriously,” Austin began, “I got this. ” Immediately after he said this, his foot plunged into the hole. What happened next caught me completely off guard. At what I can only imagine to be the top of his lungs, he dropped the F-bomb. For a single moment, there was silence. It was as if the world stood still, but once that moment had ended, we all burst into laughter. I thought you said you had this, Austin,” I managed to say between my laughs. “That thing’s a lot deeper that it looks! ” replied Austin, obviously embarrassed. After that incident, we continued to trudge forward through our laughter. Shortly after the laughter had died down, a truck drove by us. Out of the window, the head of none other than Matthew Powell popped out and shouted, “Nerds! ” Once again, we laughed. This time, however, it wasn’t as hard. The rest of the walk up to the high school was fairly uneventful. It wasn’t until we got into the band room that it started to get interesting.
Shortly after we walked through the door and met up with Matt, a high schooler with brown hair, a rounded face, and a fair amount of stubble came up to us and began to speak. A week or two before, he introduced himself to two of the other percussionists and me when the eighth-grade jazz band came up to practice with the high school jazz band. He introduced himself to us in the same way that he had when I had been up for jazz band. “Listen up Freshmen,” he began. “My name’s Jake Wolfe, and I’m going to be one of your section leaders next year. “I’m the nastiest motherf***er that you’ll ever meet! ” he said, rather excitedly. “Frankly, I’m kind of an a**hat, and you’ll probably hate me for a while. But you’ll eventually learn to love me. Any questions? ” We all started laughing. “No? Good,” he said and then walked away. Now that that was done, we walked over to the wall and set our backpacks down. I got out my pair of xylophone mallets and started practicing the music. Once I was done, I listened to our section leader practice on the tenors. When he was done, I got my concert snare sticks out and started practicing on them.
I was immediately caught off guard, as the rebound from the tenors was unlike anything I had ever played on. I went back to playing the music, but not very well. I was about halfway through the audition music when a different high schooler came up and told me to use different sticks when playing on the tenors. Apparently, normal snare sticks will damage the heads of the tenors, so the high schooler lent me his pair to practice with. I was relieved at first because I assumed that the reason 1 was getting so much rebound was because I was playing with the wrong kind of sticks. Unfortunately, I hadn’t seen the real rebound of the tenors yet.
I started to practice the music thinking that it would be easier to play with the correct sticks, but it wasn’t. I was once again, caught completely off guard. My hands were fairly moist because of how nervous I was, so when I hit the drum not expecting the rebound, the stick slid out of my hand. “Well,” I thought to myself, “this audition isn’t going to go well. ” I ran through the music on the tenors one more time before I got off of them. This time, I practiced with a firm grip so that I wouldn’t lose hold of the sticks, but this affected my ability to perform double strokes.
I was going to go practice the bass drum part, but the judge had just arrived, so I didn’t have time to. We all went into the hallway and sat there until it was our turn. One after another, we went in, played, and then came out. While we were waiting for our turns, I got to know some of the high schoolers a little better. I heard that one of the high schoolers names was also Alex, so I walked up to him and asked, “Did you know that you have the coolest name ever? ” He said, “Hell yeah! ” and then we high fived. I talked to him for a while and found out that he plays the tenors for our school’s drumline.
Eventually, it was my turn to audition. I went in and decided to audition on xylophone first because it was the part that I could play the best. It didn’t go well. This is partly because the xylophone that I auditioned sounded gross and metallic, which caught me off guard, and partly because my hands were shaky from being so nervous. While I was playing the xylophone, Thad become really nervous, so when I was done I asked the judge if I could go outside and wait a bit before l auditioned on the bass and quints. He said that it was fine, so I walked out of the room.
I had to immediately run back in because I had accidentally taken the school’s mallets outside with me. After a couple of people auditioned, I decided that it was about time to go back in and finish mine. The other Alex lent me his tenor sticks, and I went in and walked up to the drums. I told myself that I was going to do fine, but boy was I wrong. Right off the bat, I made a large mistake and had to restart. There is one part in the music where the tempo slows down and then speeds back up. When I sped back up, I went way too fast.
This caused me to make a whole slew of mistakes. After I finished the tenor audition, I was so afraid that I would mess up the bass drum part that I just didn’t audition for it. This is something that I would very strongly regret in about four months. After this, I went home and slept for a while. The next day at school, I was very anxious the entire day to see what instrument I had gotten. I hoped that I had somehow gotten tenors, but deep down 1 knew that I wouldn’t. As it turned out, I was right about not making tenors, but I did make something else.
I made front line, but was assigned the role of line captain. A line captain has the same role as a section leader. The only real difference is that you can only be a line captain during marching season. During marching season, percussion is usually split into five sections. These sections are the snare line, the tenor line, the bass line, the cymbal line, and the front line. The front line, or as I like to call it, the front percussion ensemble, is made up of a large variety of instruments that range from an automobile brake drum to a xylophone.
A professional front line is mainly composed of mallet percussion instruments, which includes xylophone, marimba, vibraphone, and many others; however, auxiliary instruments are also prominently featured in many front lines as well. Crash cymbals didn’t march during our show this year, so we didn’t have an official cymbal line. Instead, the best percussionists in the front line were given crash cymbals to play for the drumline. Luckily for me, I was able to be a part of our school’s drumline. Next year I plan on making time to practice on the actual instruments so that I’ll have a better chance of making them.