Band on the Run
In May, a group of 65 students, five parents and one band director set out for a trip of a life time to MusicFest Canada to compete in a national competion and 'go for the gold'. I was one of the students. With intruments and luggage in tow we headed for an early flight out of St. John's, Newfoundland to Ottawa, Ontario. Both the jazz band and the concert band have practiced all year and waited for this moment to arrive. We split into two groups for the journey; in my group there were 36 students. We boarded our plane and said good bye to mom and dad. Freedom!
As all of us trooped onto the plane the stewardesses had a look of fear in their eyes. Thirty-five adolescents! The worst part for them was that they had to serve us breakfast. As the meals were being passed out my stomach started to growl. I opened the package in front of me and gross, there was an ugly smelly thing that looked like an egg. Of course half of the band didn't like the eggs, so they got passed around to the nearest guy. The poor guy next to me got mine.
Our first stop was Halifax. The worst part of the trip was ahead: a four hour wait in the Halifax airport. After about two hours I was starving because I never ate my so called "egg" so we went to Harvey's. The guy at the counter had the same look on his face as the stewardess. Fear.
After a 30 minute wait in the line I finally got my burger. About another hour later we boarded the plane. This time, we had a "nice" stewardess. She showed no fear, and let us off our leashes.
When we landed in Ottawa I found my luggage but where was my trumpet? This was not good. I searched all of the cases but I couldn't find my trumpet. I asked the band director where my instrument was and to my relief it was on the other flight with the older band members. Relief.
We got on the bus and went to our hotel which was in Hull, Quebec. It was late so I went straight to bed. The next day was the jazz band adjudication, and all of us in the concert band had to watch it. They played extremely well -- maybe even the best they ever played. Later that day we were about to receive the news on what the jazz band had won. Our band director was making his speech and during the last sentence he started to point to the gold ring on his hand. We all started screaming and yelling. The jazz band had won gold! Now the pressure was on the concert band to make it double gold. We had to focus.
On Friday we went to the mall. They set 65 teens loose in a three-story mall for three hours with cash in their pockets. In the end it was a good idea cause I got some new clothes. We went back to the hotel and had a "party" in my room. Half of the band was in our room jumping on the beds and posing for goofy pictures. Unfortunately, one of the parents decided to be a party pooper and told everyone to go to bed.
The next day we went on a tour of Ottawa, and at the end of the tour we went to the parliment buildings. That was a bad idea: we had to be extremely quiet and be "well behaved". We managed to survive the House of Commons and went for lunch. Instead of going to the nearest food court we decided to go to a hot dog stand across the street from the parliament building. The one guy who was working at the hot dog stand looked like he had seen a ghost when we got in the line. But in the end everyone got a hot dog and a drink. Of course something bad had to happen. Because of all of the food we had, we attracted some flying friends, seagulls and pigeons. That was not very pleasant because some of the band members got "presents" on their heads, if you know what I mean.
After that we went to the IMAX theatre. We watched "Michael Jordon to the Max". By the end of the movie I was curled up in the chair asleep just like the other 64 people in the band. So much for Michael. We went back to the hotel and tried to have another party but we couldn't because tomorrow was the big day, the concert band adjudication.
We woke up and got our uniforms on, slept through breakfast, and walked to where we had to be judged. We went to the warm up room and ran into a little problem. The piccolo was having some difficulties, a screw had come loose and the key wouldn't work. The whole band gasped in fright, the piccolo had a solo in one of our songs. After a few tweaks and turns the piccolo was good as new. Whew!
After the warm up we went out on the stage were we would be judged. As we put our instruments up to play, the lead tuba player encountered some difficulties. His key was broken, and once again the whole band turned around and gasped. Our band director turned red and walked down to assess the damage. After about a minute or two the tuba was fixed and the band sighed with relief.
We started to play and it was almost perfect, but by the time we got to the end of the performance ,the room felt like an oven and we didn't do as good a job on the last song. We walked off the stage in dismay thinking that we could not get gold, but may have to settle for silver.
We went back to the hotel to get ready for the closing ceremonies and the participants' party. Every one was getting dressed up and all the girls were doing their hair. We all met down in the lobby and we went outside to start to walk to the party when we stopped for another "meeting". I didn't know what our band director was going to say but the older students did. "I know you did your best today. It doesn't matter what you won, gold, silver, bronze, plastic, paper..." he said. "But I want you to be proud and happy to go home and tell your family and friends that you got...."
During this whole speech he kept a straight face and seemed upset. But the second he said the word we all wanted to hear we started to cry and jump for joy. Gold! We had won gold, double gold!
We went to the participants' party happy and proud. I couldn't believe it and neither did the rest of the band. We went to bed and got on the plane the next morning. On the plane they announced our winnings, and for once the stewardesses smiled. Yes!
As we walked off the plane in St. John's our families stood waiting there with signs and big balloons. We felt like we had won the Olympics. Now band is over for this school year. In two years we will go to MusicFest Canada again and go all the way , to win double gold...again.