Ranting and Raving

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The subtitle this month should be ranting and raving because I’m doing both. A little background: I love music and have somehow developed quite diverse interests in everything from Broadway, Beethoven and Fall Out Boy to classic country, modern country rock, and Crown the Empire. I even have some bagpipe music on my iPod.

As you might imagine, I also enjoy the marching bands at high school and college football games. Those of you who have known me for even a short time are aware that I am not a big fan of Aggies, but I admit that when the Fighting Texas Aggie Band strikes up the Aggie War Hymn and steps off in incredibly straight lines I am amazed by the sight and stirred by the sound.

So here is my RAVE: Because my son plays the sousaphone in the Wylie High School band, I have had the privilege of seeing probably 30 high school marching bands perform at football games and marching band contests each of the last three years. This Saturday I will announce the Wylie Invitational Marching Contest where 23 bands will perform. If it is like last year, I will enjoy every performance. Our schools need these programs. They teach students discipline, camaraderie, determination, trust and interdependence. You can see all of those traits in the performances they put on. The band programs also teach kids to appreciate an eclectic repertoire of music.

And here is my RANT: I detest the fact that we have made music a competition. 22 of those 23 bands at Wylie on Saturday will leave disappointed because six professional judges using very subjective criteria will have ranked the bands and decided that one of them is the best. I think it is a shame that our society has made everything into a competition. And I wish that I could share the joy that will be stirred in my heart and soul with every member of every band marching on Saturday. My day will be made wonderful because of the sounds and sight of those bands. I hope in retrospect each of those students can understand what a wonderful experience they created and were a part of during their high school band days and that they don’t simply remember being dejected at the end of the day.

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