Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Key (02/14/13)
TITLE: A Disaster of Disonance
By Michelle Knoll
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Michelle's band director had explained to them that the college band would begin its pregame show from the sideline, and work through its marching maneuvers until it was positioned right in front of the end zone on the north end of the field. He then would ascend a step ladder which would be positioned between the college band on the field and the high school bands in the stands, and direct the National Anthem. With a serious look, her band director added, "and we'll all put forth the biggest sound we can. Right?" Many of her classmates nodded solemnly. They had heard the stories about the college band director and his temper.
Michelle found her place in the clarinet section and pulled out her lire and sheet music for the anthem. As she placed the music in the lire, a slight breeze turned the music just enough that she could see the back side of the small page.
"Hey, Sarah. What are we playing this in? A flat? or B flat?"
"What do you mean?"
Michelle turned the music so Sarah could see the back side of the page. "See? It's in A flat on this side."
Sarah's brow wrinkled. "Um, gee, I'm not sure."
"Maybe Tracy will know. Hold on."
Michelle stood up and called to her favorite trumpet player who was three rows below them.
"Hey, Tracy! What are we playing this in?"
Tracy shot back an irritated look. "Are you kidding me? B flat, like we always do!"
"Thanks!" Michelle sat back down and shared the news with Sarah. They both positioned their music with the B flat version showing, and prepared their reeds.
The announcer's voice echoed through the stadium proclaiming the start of the pregame show. The crowd roared as the college drum section began its cadence, and the band marched into position on the sideline. After the head field commander gave four whistles, the air was split by crystal clear, powerful sound. The show had begun! The casual chatter quickly evaporated as everyone watched the precision movements of the experienced college band members. Soon would be their chance to join these older band students in playing the nation's most important song.
Michelle's band director stood very quickly and gave each student a stern look that meant only one thing: Keep Your Eyes On Him! Don't Mess Up! As he sat back down, she noticed the college band had arrived at their destination: the north end of the field. This was it! All the high school band members positioned their instruments, and waited.
The college band director ascended the ladder, raised his baton, and eyed all the bands in the north stands. The hush of anticipation could literally be felt.
His hands gave the first two silent beats, and as he directed the pickup note, the expression on his face changed from one of complete calm and professionalism, to one of shock and horror.
It took a few moments for everyone to realize what was wrong, but soon the error was clear: half the bands were playing in A flat, while the other half were playing in B flat! Some of the students from the high school bands couldn't play from laughing so hard, but most continued on because of their own directors shouting at them to "keep playing!"
The college band director's expression turned from shock to disgust. In his rage, he shook his fist wildly at the grating sound emanating from the stands. But there was no stopping. Oh no, he couldn't admit a problem in front of a full stadium! So the bands proceeded to play through the entire anthem, which sounded very much like a cross between frightened, stampeding elephants and stuck keys on a pipe organ.
When the song was complete, the rest of the stadium cheered, but within the north end stands, all that could be heard were groans mixed with laughter.
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