Life in the Fishbowl

Living by the Todd Family Motto: "It behooves us to live." I want to change the world.

Life in the Fishbowl - Living by the Todd Family Motto: "It behooves us to live." I want to change the world.

3 more things my high school band director told me

Yesterday, I shared three things that my high school band director told me that have stuck with me over the years. But I wasn’t done. There are three more things that I need to share…
Low brass awesomeness

“Don’t mess with the Star Spangled Banner.”

You march onto the field, play the song exactly the way the audience expects to hear it. Then you march off. No fluff. Nothing artsy about it.

He was right. He still is. Every time some pop sensation tries to do something cute with the national anthem, that person gets lit up on the social networks. In a different context, it could be considered ground-breaking (see: Jimi Hendrix), but we are a nation of traditions. And if you’re going to perform the national anthem before a game, you’re better off just performing the song the way it was written and getting out of the way. If not, you might find yourself on some Top Ten Worst National Anthem Performances list.

Whenever someone messes with the national anthem, I just shake my head. “Mr. Briel was right,” I say to myself. “They should’ve listened to him.”

Blind fish and a prediction about our offspring

Mr. Briel opened class one day with a story. It wasn’t entirely unusual that he would tell us a story, but this one was a little different. He started talking about fish. But these were just any fish. They were blind fish that are found in caves.

Blind Cavefish

Then he started to discuss the scientific theory behind this phenomenon. Strange, I thought. I must have accidentally walked into biology lab instead of Concert Band. He explained that organisms adapt to their environment over time. Features that an organism needs in its environment continue to be strengthened. Other organs, like the eyes in the cave fish’s case, eventually phase out. Fish in a body of water in the middle of a cave don’t have any need for eyes, after all. There’s no light anyway. So over time, the fish just stopped growing eyes because they weren’t using them anyway.

Then he explained that the things an organism uses tend to be emphasized as their genetic makeup is passed on from generation to generation. At the same time, the things they don’t use tend to be minimized as an organism adapts over time. Sometimes, these features disappear altogether.

After giving us a brief scientific lecture, he paused and looked over the class.

“You know, I was thinking about this effect of passing along traits to our offspring as I was trying to figure out what happened during yesterday’s class. And I’ve come to this conclusion:

“Your kids are going to be born with no ears and really big mouths!”

You know, there are days when I think of this prediction and wonder if Mr. Briel might have had a touch of the gift of prophecy. Because…well…there are some days where it sure feels like he was absolutely right.

As they say, revenge is a dish best served cold. And I’ve had some pretty large helpings of that dish over the years.

“If you’ll switch to tuba, I’ll put you in Wind Ensemble.”

In 5th grade, I took up the trumpet. A cornet, to be specific. But that really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. I was part of the trumpet section, so we’ll just say I was playing the trumpet.

Anyway, I started playing the trumpet in 5th grade. I played it all through middle school and even marched as a trumpet during my Freshman year of marching season. I was decent. But I definitely wasn’t great at trumpet. My trumpet skills were nothing to write home about.

At the end of 9th grade, Mr. Briel came up to me towards the end of class. He had a proposal for me. We didn’t have anyone lined up to play tuba the next year. So he asked me and two of my Freshman trumpet buddies if we’d consider switching from trumpet to tuba. To sweeten the deal, he said that he’d put us in Wind Ensemble – the highest level of band at our school – if we made the switch.

So I switched. And my musical career took off.

Because of a scheduling conflict, I was not enrolled in Wind Ensemble the following semester. I was disappointed, but it turned out to be a great thing. Since I was the only tuba playing in Concert Band, I couldn’t hide behind anyone else. I had to quickly learn how to play my new instrument and I had to learn how to play it with power.

So I did.

Not to toot my own horn (no pun intended…or maybe it is intended), but I got to be pretty darn good for a guy who didn’t start playing tuba until the 10th grade. I wound up on the All-City Honors Band for two years. I played in a large brass ensemble at the State Solo & Ensemble contest. I participated in TubaChristmas for several years. I performed in several church orchestras and brass ensembles. I even had a tuba solo in a jazz concert while at Milligan. Turned out it was my final instrumental performance ever.

All City Band

All City Honors Band. Can you find me? I promise I’m in this picture.

I had a much better time playing tuba than I ever had while playing trumpet. And I have Mr. Briel to thank for that. Sure, he might have chosen me to play tuba simply because I was a pretty big guy and could handle carrying a giant brass instrument around. But that’s OK. I have no complaints. Because it still opened all kinds of doors for me.

And now I’m a bass line guy for life.

Mr. Briel impacted me in many ways. But this invitation to play the tuba? It was life-changing. And I cannot thank him enough for giving me that opportunity.

My Ultimate Christmas Playlist: Santa Wants a Tuba for Christmas

Santa Wants a Tuba for Christmas

The tree is trimmed. The stockings are hung. Christmas is in the air!

Last year, I asked for guest posts about everyone’s favorite Christmas songs. Y’all stepped up by writing some pretty awesome stuff. This year? I’ve decided to share some of my own favorites. I’ve created a list of my 25 favorite songs that are a must-have on any Christmas playlist. Some of them are songs you’ve probably never heard before. So I’m happy to share a little Christmas spirit by introducing you to these great songs.

OK. You might not think some of them are “great.” That’s OK. They have some sentimental value to them so they have to be on my list even if you think they’re corny – kind of like this first entry, Santa Wants a Tuba for Christmas.

During my tuba playing days, TubaChristmas became an annual tradition for me. There’s nothing like listening to a chorus of low brass playing  Christmas carols. And while we never played this song at any of the concerts where I performed, I was still quite aware of this song.  Hearing this song touches a special place in my heart and makes me join Santa in wishing that I had a tuba for Christmas, too.

But don’t tell Christy. I think the last thing she’d like to see is a gigantic brass behemoth taking up space in our apartment.

 

It’s hot. And you need a cool #TwitterTuesday

TwitterTuesday

Yeah. You have to read the entire thread to get full glory of the tweet.

Speaking of cups….let’s take a moment and listen to the original Cups Song…

I know. It’s way too early for a musical interlude. But it was totally worth it.

Time to press on into cool #TwitterTuesday awesomeness (because it’s hot, Don!*)

My evil plan is working. Soon I will take over the world…mwahahaha

One of the many, many reasons tubas rock.

Nothing more to say about that.

Not sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing that I’m associated with Miley’s performance. It is what it is, I guess.

Thank you, Dr. King. Thank you.

Then the Hoosiers did this…

Unfortunately, this past Saturday was a different story. But that’s another post. An entirely different post.

I love my co-workers.

Yet again, Los knocked it out of the park.

So….what are you dreaming about? What God-sized dream has He given you?

Yeah. The crowd was electric. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Gonna recap that in another post. Probably tomorrow.

SO EXCITED about Indy Pop Con!

Thanks for checking in to this installment of #TwitterTuesday! Tune in next time where I might just include your tweet. Unless you aren’t on twitter. Then I won’t. Because I can’t. So maybe you should just get on twitter and follow me.

Whaddya say?

*If you have any connection to Evansville at all, you want to click that link. Trust me.

I guess I’m doing something right with this parenting thing

It saddens me to know that I’ve lost the Star Wars battle with my children. When ranking his favorite Star Wars movies, he continues to say that Attack of the Clones is his favorite. This really should not be. It makes me question my parenting skills, thinking I’ve failed him somehow.

There is some hope in my child-rearing skills. It might be a small glimmer of hope, but it’s still hope. Today I took Aiden to the doctor for his annual checkup. While I was waiting for him in the waiting room, this happened…

When I told Aiden about it later, he laughed. The fact that he got the reference makes me smile. The fact that he turns on Livin’ on a Prayer every time we’re in my car makes me smile, too. There’s hope for him yet.

And every time Mihret’s in the car? She wants to listen to ‘Tuba Taco’

They may have awful taste in movies, but they definitely have some good musical preferences. Maybe I’m doing OK with this parenting thing after all.

Flashback Friday: Band Geek Edition

This Is Our Story, 1993 (I think)

This Is Our Story, 1993 (I think)

It’s high school football season again, and you know what that means…marching band! I was saddened to learn in back in May that the Blackhawk Brigade wasn’t going to field a marching band this year. There wasn’t enough student interest (remember…we’re an itty-bitty school in the middle of a cornfield) this year. I enjoyed listening to them rehearse during previous Summers and that was something I definitely missed this year. Hopefully they’ll be able to return to competition in 2010.

Although I was always happy to hear them rehearse, I know marching bands aren’t always greeted by their neighbors with open arms. There were many times we’d rehearse outside the Band Room during class time. I guess we were too loud one afternoon because a neighbor came over and got into a big arugument with our band director because she was trying to sleep. Being the obnoxious high school Band Geeks that we were, that just made us play even louder. She eventually drove away, waved a particular gesture at us, and blared her car horn.

At least, that’s what I think she was doing with her horn. I couldn’t hear it because we were playing too loud. :)

I believe that was the year we were performing what became my favorite show, which was selections from the musical, City of Angels. I liked the music so much that I went out and bought the soundtrack. I still listen to it on occasion. It was a fun show.

I wish I had a video of that show, but I don’t. If any of you fellow Recovering HHS Band Geeks happen to have a copy of our City of Angels show, I will love you forever if you could get me a digital copy somehow.

But until that time, I guess the Madison Scouts’s version will have to do. ;)

Part 1

Part 2