Band-tober

Hi, my name is Josh, and I like band. It’s true. I like band.

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I like band because it’s simple. You play what’s on the page in front of you, you stay with your conductor, and you have a great time.

I like band because it’s complicated. Band takes instruments as disparate as oboe, euphonium, snare drum and harpsichord and uses them all at the same time. Having these various timbres weave together into a single piece of music is a complicated endeavor.

I like band because I had sole responsibility to play my part. As a percussionist, every note I play is a solo. There’s only one timpani player, one triangle part, one ratchet or crotale. If the piece of music we were playing was going to have a snare drum rhythm, it was down to me; and if I failed, the music failed.

I like band because it is a group effort in every way. If one person skips a measure it affects every aspect of the performance. You only achieve harmony when everyone is listening to each other and blending their sounds appropriately. To achieve a truly quiet sound, everyone has to play quietly together. It’s exactly the same for playing loudly. A powerful controlled sound from everyone in the ensemble has more impact than one player trying to be a super hero.

Fall is an interesting time of year for band. In Texas, fall means marching band. It kicks off in the dog days of summer with sunburns and dehydration. Persevere through those struggles and you’ll find that most bands in Texas rehearse somewhere around 5-6 hours a week outside of their school schedule. Learning drill is a group activity that can’t really be learned by your lonesome, so most students will end up memorizing their music on their own time. As the semester gets into gear, marching bands will spend hours on buses and in stadiums supporting their football team, win or lose. As you get into October, that’s when the fun really kicks in.

October for a marching band (or Band-tober as my band director friends refer to it) means homecoming parades, festival performances, unpredictable weather, and finally a contest where all of the work you have put in through the semester gets adjudicated based on one solitary 8-minute performance. At the end of everything, you get one shot to prove yourself to the judges that determine your success. 

Because of the nature of scoring in band contests, you’ll hear certain ideas often around a band. Breathe together. Count together. Move together. One band, one sound. All in. These thoughts are everywhere.

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A band plays one piece, together. The performers don’t get scores based on their individual part, it’s one score for the entire ensemble. The very best players don’t get individual awards, the very worst players aren’t held out from success. One band, one sound, one score.

In a lot of ways, the Body of Christ should look the same. Regardless of our individual strengths and personalities, we should be pulling in one direction. One Body, one kingdom.

In John chapter 17 we find Jesus praying as a high priest over the church. He prays over His disciples and the disciples that would follow after. Look at verse 22 and following. “The glory you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”

Perfectly one. One direction. One voice. Though we may have different ideas about music, or literature, or politics, we should be united as one in our love. Our love one for another must supersede any division, because division is from the enemy.

So stand up, love your sisters and brothers. Be one body, united in love. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Love your Neighbor as yourself.

Choose unity.