Tag Archives: drum and bugle corps

Confessions of the Musically Challenged

Hi, my name is Diana and I’m musically challenged.

Isn’t that a lovely euphamism for “I suck at music”? How about “pitch deprived”? Or, “note ignorant”?

Forget the euphamisms. I suck at music. It is a skill I wished I had sometimes. I’m surrounded by people who know music. They can read music. The running joke in my family is that musical talent skipped my generation. Well, it definitely skipped me.

Diana Beebe's Blog

Growing up, I fiddled around on the old piano that we had but didn’t take lessons. My brother taught me how to play the basics of “Chopsticks” while he played the more complicated parts around me.

In middle school, music was a requirement. I picked choir, because I was terrified of failing at playing an instrument. I had a decent voice back then, so it was an easy choice. The choir director had quite an…er…interesting group of kids who had various levels of interest and talent. She taught us the notes on the treble and bass clefs, but I never learned to read them. (If you take just the notes in the spaces of the treble clef, they spell FACE. Yep, that’s what I remember.) Still today, if you played a note and asked me what it was, I’d have no clue.

I knew to sing a higher note if the note on the page went up. If I didn’t know the song already, then I didn’t really know what note to sing next. I felt sorry for Mrs. Petrash at the UIL sight reading competition. We sounded like a cacophony of wounded animals.

The Armadillo can play the piano. She already understands some musical theory. She gets what major and minor mean. I have NO clue. She heard her grandmother practicing piano (they take lessons together) and corrected her, “Not in minor.”

When she got a new piano music book, she was so excited. Here’s our conversation:

The Armadillo: “This book has ‘Blow the Man Down.’ What’s that?”

Me: A pirate song.

The Armadillo: “Cool. Then it should be in minor. You know, ’cause pirates are usually bad guys.”

Me:  *blink blink*

The Armadillo: “Let me read you the notes for ‘Hot Cross Buns.’ E D C…”

Me: *Laughs* “I don’t know what that means.”

The Armadillo: *blink blink* “Didn’t you ever play an instrument? I thought you played a horn. How can you not read music?”

Dynasty II French Horn Bugle

Dynasty II French Horn Bugle

It’s true that in high school I played a French Horn bugle. It is what it sounds like. A bugle built to sound like a French Horn. It resembles a marching French Horn, but it’s a bugle. I was pretty good at playing it, too. I loved it, actually, for a few reasons. It wasn’t a soprano or tenor bugle (those killed my lips), and there were only two of us who played it in the entire corps. Also, I didn’t have to read music to be successful. Most of us in my high school drum and bugle corps learned by ear and memorization. Remember my choir music-reading experience? Yeah, it’s a good thing no one made us do that. If someone was really bad (because they didn’t practice, maybe), then they faked it on the field (not pointing any fingers at my sister, or anything. 😉 )

Music is one area where I’m happy to let my husband help our daughters when they have a question about music or what they are practicing. They can ask me if they want, but all they’ll get is…

*blink blink*

What musical skills or talents do you have–or wish you have?  I’d love to hear about it!

If you want to vote on which comic book cover Armadillo picked, go here. I’ll post the results and the answer this week!

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High School Memories

I blame this post on two people:  Julie Glover, who posted about high school marching band, which triggered my nostalia, and my cousin, who posted on Facebook last night that the big rivalry game ended with our high school winning 25-22 in the last three seconds of the game.  That must have been a nailbiter!

Waiting for the players to enter.
The rival drill team is at the top in blue. I’m on the far left, top row of maroon.

I blame my cousin more, because now I have my high school fight song stuck in my head.  Who knew it would come back to me so clearly after all these years?

Mismatched spirit wear.

The rivalry between the two high schools was a city-wide, week-long event.  It was all in good fun, because everyone had family and friends at both schools. Spirit Week let us dress like goofballs, especially on Mixup the Rangers Day and Nerd Day.  My friends and I were creative.

Marching band was not my thing.  Heck, I couldn’t even read music when I started high school. (To be honest, I still can’t).  That didn’t stop the Lee Brigadiers Drum and Bugle Corps from allowing me to join after a rather pitiful tryout on a soprano bugle on which I played the first four notes of a song called “Doughboy.”  Great.  Now, I have that song stuck in my head.

I learned how to play the tenor bugle (there is an entire range of bugles, in case you were wondering) in 9th grade and then played a French horn bugle (which looked nothing like a true French horn and was a dream to play) for the next two years. I even learned how to play and march.  With the help from a new music director, we all learned to play our different parts pretty darn well.  We went from being rather pathetic musically to “Hey, you don’t suck anymore!” as one friend put it.  As a field officer my senior year, I didn’t have to play an instrument.  I’m sure my family was more relieved than I was that they didn’t have to listen to me practice.

That’s me in full uniform.

Our uniforms were heavy wool short skirts and military jackets, black hats (field officers wore white), and black boots.  At the beginning of the football season, we roasted in those jackets.  Sometimes we got to wear custom-made gray shirts instead.  By the end of the season, we would freeze our bottoms off in the skirts.  Two or three layers of pantyhose helped a little, and we got to bring blankets (as long as they matched our uniforms).

We went to Corpus Christie once and San Antonio (Fiesta!) twice for band competitions.  Since we were the only drum and bugle corps to show up, we did pretty well. 😛

Port Arthur had a drum and bugle corps, but we only saw them when our football teams played against each other.  They were growing smaller in my last two years of high school and didn’t perform at halftime.  In our wisdom at the time, we figured they didn’t want to embarrass themselves.  We had a creative name for them, and I’m sure I know what they called us.

We were a large group (about 200 girls on the field).  We marched with high knees and 8 steps for every 5 yards.  Some of our more complicated songs included the National Anthem (at attention, of course), the Texas State song (also at attention), the Aggie War Hymn (with counter marches), and many others that I don’t want to list because then I’ll have those stuck in my head, too.  Too late.  I hear “This Land is Your Land” now.

The rival game my last year was fun.  Our director gave us seniors a little freedom to take pictures when we were on the sidelines.  It was also a more friendly rivalry than it had been in previous years.  We shared their campus with a split schedule for nearly a year because the main building on our campus had burned down the previous spring.  We appreciated their welcoming and supportive attitude.

My squads (freshmen) carried Disney characters because we were going to Florida.
Usually, they carried Texas flags.

All these pictures are from my senior scrapbook.  The scrapbooker in me now cringes at the way I treated my photos then.  But at least I have these (who knows where the negatives are), so I won’t complain.

Sadly, the Corps was disbanded after 70 years.  It had gotten too small to be sustainable.  My high school has a drill team now.  It saddens me that fewer girls have the opportunity to be involved.  I have many fond memories with my friends on the practice field, in the Brig Hall, on bus rides, and on trips.

One of my fondest memories is circling up and singing the Corps Song in the Brig Hall, arm-in-arm and hands clasped together, after every game or performance.  By my senior year, I always got choked up.  At the farewell celebration, over a thousand Brigadiers from all seven decades were on the football field.  It was the weekend after 9/11 and the airlines were still grounded. Otherwise, there would have been many more in attendance. Many of us sang that song for the last time and cried.  That’s a song I don’t mind having stuck in my head tonight.

I found only one video on YouTube.  I’d hoped someone had converted old videos to digital, so you could see a halftime performance.  This is the year after I graduated when the Brigadiers were invited to the Orange Bowl Parade.  Start at 17 seconds to skip the float ahead of the group, or don’t skip it and see the child actor who was big on the Cosby Show.  Either way, you can have “This Land is Your Land” stuck in your head.

I’d love to hear about your stories about your high school football activities.  Did your high school have one rival or many?  Did you have Spirit Week? Were you a Lee Brigadier or a Sterling Star–or connected to one?  Do you have a fond football game memory?