Second Sunday of Advent: Christmas Music

One thing I miss about my high school is teachers saying, “I’ll pray while you start the test” or “Let’s pray before we start lecture” or “Come on, stand up, they’re about to do the Lord’s Prayer on announcements.”  Every once in a while, a professor here says something that reminds me of the way a teacher would get ready to pray, and it throws me for a loop.

Another thing I miss is getting to play real Christmas music in band.  I’m in a community orchestra now, and in our concert yesterday, we played music from Titanic, Michael Jackson, and The Lord of the Rings, as well as some classical pieces like “Pines of Rome” and “Berceuse and Finale” (coincidentally, they’re both in the 2000 version of Fantasia–the whale scene and the after-the-volcano scene, respectively).  The only vaguely Christmas-y thing we played was the suite from “The Nutcracker.”  I miss getting to play things that talk about what Christmas actually means, even if obtusely.

Yesterday was a busy day musically.  Before my orchestra concert, I played in a TubaChristmas concert, which, as I mentioned in last week’s post, includes a lot of religious music.  As I play, it was incredible to think about the words behind the songs–and how people of so many different religions, creeds, worldviews, and belief systems around the US and around the world were playing that exact set of music. I wonder how many people knew the words, or what they meant.

TubaChristmas 2012

TubaChristmas 2012

The concert itself probably sounded interesting.  110+ tubas, baritones, and euphoniums, plus one sousaphone and an antique helicon played by musicians ranging in age from eleven to 76 made for an interesting choir.  The facts that half the people there probably hadn’t played since last year’s TubaChristmas and that we performed in a noisy mall with a three-story vaulted ceiling made life a little more exciting.  But one of the coolest parts was the people I got to meet.  I went by myself, which meant that I got to interact with a lot more people than had I gone with a little group of friends.  In rehearsal, I sat next to two seventh graders, one of whom appeared to be adopted from Asia and reminded me quite a bit of my own seventh grade self.  I met a nice gentleman and his wife who looked to be in their sixties who gave me a lift as I was walking with my euphonium and they were lost looking for the rehearsal building.  (Yes, I know, I know–don’t accept rides with from strangers.  But when it’s an elderly couple and there’s a tuba visible in the back seat and you’re carrying a euphonium case and you’re looking for a tuba festival…it’s probably an okay time to break the golden rule of stranger danger.)  As I walked from the rehearsal site to catch the metro to the performance location, a band director with three girls from her high school band picked me up. (I did recognize them from the rehearsal, so it seemed safe enough).  One of the girls played tuba, one played euphonium, and one was just there for moral support for her girlfriend (the euphonium player).  The first two were seniors and the last had graduated either last year or the year before.  I ended up spending my lunch break with them, and they turned out to be pretty cool people.  Apparently, they’ve been going every year since seventh grade.  The tuba player had a chronic case of the hiccups and apparently needs to get an MRI to make sure she doesn’t have a tumor on her brain stem (or something like that).  I have no idea how she plays tuba with the hiccups–I’ve tried, and it’s really, really difficult.  The euphonium player wanted to go to Claire’s to get earrings, for some reason.  The girlfriend had a great sense of humor.  After carrying the tuba around the mall to the food court (the rest of us had cases and left our instruments in the staging area), we sat and adorned it with lights, pipe cleaners, and ornaments for the decorated-instrument competition (it won, quite deservedly).  I’m not sure why I told you all that, except that it was amusing.

So I guess this post was a lot less deep and a lot more rambling than last week’s.  I’m getting together a good one (I hope) for next week, though, so stay tuned.


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