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Personal Narrative Essay: Marching Band

It wasn’t a typical Friday until I got my morning headache courtesy of the freshman drumline banging out a rough cadence three months and counting after marching season and I stepped in a puddle of spit. And my new black converses just made contact with the remnants of the trombones’ spit valves. The brown tiled floor of the band room was disgusting, especially near the low brass section where the instrumentalists felt the need to pour their spit out everywhere. I lucked out with having my instrument stored in the cages behind the low brass section’s saliva ocean.

Today, I did my best to ignore the snare drum freshman that was currently slamming his drumsticks like a frenzied chimp because any form of attention seemed to encourage the idiots to play even louder; if that was possible. And right now, I didn’t have a headache and I really didn’t need one. Topened the cage holding my instrument and music folders, grabbing the saxophone case with one hand and tucking my jazz band folder under my arm. The folder was empty except for a small excerpt of sheet music from Chicago’s “25 or 6 to 4”.

The piece that determined which instrumentalists made it into the top jazz band and who got put into the ‘you tried’ jazz band. After today, I wanted to fill this folder with the Jazz One selections that Mr. Brown specifically picked out for his most talented musicians. Not that his ‘talented musicians’ are any good outside the band room considering the overall quality of the high school band. Though there were a few exceptions of talented students that had started playing before middle school or got private lessons. I was in neither of those categories.

Boisterous laughter joined in with the thunderous drumming ambiance within the band room and I looked over to see the tenor drum player, Jake, hoisting a drumstick with a pair of torn blue jeans tied to the end in the air. “I bet’cha I could join color guard! ” Jake threw the drumstick in the air and attempted to catch it. He didn’t. “You are just about as good as the color guard,” the one freshmen with greasy brown hair and thick framed glasses snickered. The drumline continued to giggle amongst themselves over their pants on a stick. “What are you doing?! a deep, masculine voice shouted over the commotion. The drum line’s laughter and playing halted, the few other instrumentalists in the room put their instruments down and looked amongst themselves with wide eyes. I froze with my case dangling from my hand. Mr. Brown was like a drill sergeant, if drill sergeants wore too tight sweater vests over their guts. He stood in the frame of the door, glaring at Jake and his posse of drummers. Today the sweater vest was bright orange and Brown’s balding head seemed extra shiny under the fluorescent lighting.

His tone was strict enough though that it made you stupid if you didn’t take the band director seriously because he occasionally resembled a big oompa loompa. Jake looked like a statue, his left arm stretched up with the pants drumstick and a dumbfounded expression on his face. “Uh– | split my pants picking up a drumstick–” “You’re supposed to be practicing. If you want to act like an idiot, go back to homeroom,” Brown motioned to the door. His face was set with that trademark tight frown that almost made it look like he had no lips. “I’ll practice. I’m sorry, Mr. rown. ” Mr. Brown nodded slowly, his stern expression lightening up into a full blown smile as he made eye contact with me. Two years ago, he would have still been frowning. “Tessa! You come to try out for Jazz One finally? ” | gripped the handle of the saxophone case tighter and nodded in reply.

I felt everyone looking me over, probably judging me for thinking I could get into Jazz One . Or maybe they were waiting to see if Brown wanted to tear into me next. The band director seemed to be pleased though with the idea of another audition, and gave me a firm thumbs up. Good! Come to my office when you want to audition. Be speedy with it, Tessa,”he was smiling, but it made me uneasy. Brown always had that effect on me ever since he called me out three years ago. As a concert band freshmen. I was already on Brown’s bad side for not join his “marvelous bands” and therefore, not selling my soul to the band and it’s director. He decided to embarrass me into perfection by forcing me to play a few measures of this awful rendition of “Jingle Bells” by myself in front of the whole band.

I could hardly read sheet music(and Brown was aware of that). I attempted it though(Not like I had a choice with Brown staring me down like a lion on the hunt), playing handfuls of wrong notes and managing to squeak out a recognizable line of the melody. My performance earned me a semester of Brown staring me down and telling me the same thing in that stern, booming voice of his. “Stop wiggling your fingers, Moore! Learn the notes or don’t play at all! “I almost stopped playing. I almost didn’t join marching band.

But here in my senior year, Brown had finally conjured up a decent specimen of saxophonist in me through intimidation and heaps of practice. He liked me now since I could properly read sheet music. Brown turned away, briefly looking over the sheet music some of the flutes had out and giving them an affirmative nod. Once he finally stepped out of the band room and returned into his office, the drums picked up again, the flutes let out soft trills, and a saxophone was playing through the same excerpt of “25 or 6 to 4” that I had in my folder

Brendan Chase, by far the most talented instrumentalist in the band and Brown’s pet, was going through the audition piece like he had been playing it for years. His fingers were quickly going through the various notes and there was no hesitation or resistance when he went up an octave or hit those low notes underneath the staff. I could barely hit the one low note he was currently blowing through. He stopped playing and looked over, his dark eyes meeting mine. Brendan pulled away from the mouthpiece and smirked. “Hey, Tess.

I didn’t know you were trying out for Jazz One. ” I sat down, keeping an empty chair between us, and plopped my instrument case on my lap. “Yeah, I figured I’d try with senior year and all,” I sprung open the latches on the case and began assembling the pieces of the alto. Brendan was talking again, but I couldn’t hear him as the drums were joined by Elliott doing scales on his trumpet. I nodded as I slipped my neck strap over my neck and popped a new reed in my mouth, focusing more on how nasty the little wooden stick tasted than what Brendan was actually saying.

The drums stopped finally, probably finishing their piece, but who knows with percussion? “–and I know Zoe and Max are trying out later. But, Brown told me he was thinking about having three altos this year. That’d be awesome, huh? Well, I gotta go audition now or Brown will kill me. You know how he is. Good luck with your audition! ” Brendan finally finished the conversation I missed the middle of accompanied by squealing trumpets. He grabbed his music and got up, doing a dorky little wave as he went down the hall to Brown’s dinky office. I don’t know why Brown was even making Brendan audition.

It was obvious that one of the alto saxophone positions was going to be his. All Brendan had to do was step one foot into the band room and Brown would pounce on him about a new honors band to join or a special solo Brown composed just for him. And Brendan would always nod his head, accepting whatever musical destiny Brown had already decided for him. Jazz One was a guarantee for him. Brendan would probably be forced into it even if he didn’t audition; Brown had to show off his star pupil to all the other overzealous band directors within our county of Pennsylvania.

Tlooked at the sheet music still tucked in the yellow music folder, noting the key signature(one sharp), the time signature ( a solid 4/4), and the little italic bold letter ‘f indicating the dynamic (forte). It was only several measures, but it was meant to be loud. And I wasn’t loud. I didn’t have to be loud in a decent saxophone section of six people. I blended in with the other’s playing, making one big united sound. I didn’t have to be loud in a household of five people where my opinion didn’t matter anyway. My two older siblings would bicker amongst each other, overpowering anything I had to say.

Why bother pitching in when Chloe or Mitch would scream and scream until they got their way? It was easier to be quiet. Everyone in the Moore household loved to make a big, loud deal about the most trivial things, such as who got the top bunk back when they family would go camping at their cabin in Hershey(it was Chloe), who didn’t take the trash out(it was Dad), why they weren’t having tacos for dinner on Taco Tuesday(because Taco Tuesday was never a thing and Mitch is the only one with the unhealthy Mexican food addiction).

I could clearly hear Mitch now, remembering the argument he had with Chloe about the damn tacos last time they were both back home from college. “Mom promised we’d have tacos tonight! Yanno, like when we were kids! ” Mitch whined. Chloe took it upon herself to cook that night because she insisted Mom needed a break. Mom really didn’t need a break since she was binge watching the Food Network for the past four hours and spent two of those hours telling me about how easy it’d be to make one of those overrated chef’s crock pot dishes, but Chloe insisted.

Mom didn’t promise anything and we never had a weekly taco day when we were kids. Shut up, Mitch,” Chloe focused on boiling her water for the spaghetti noodles. “Yeah, she did! Mom! ” Mitch was yelling now. “Oh my God, Mitch! No one cares–” institutions and indicated its prioritization of white privileges over the protection of the liberties of black Americans. Justice Harlan argued as the sole dissenter in the case that the amendments should have been viewed in a broader sense as a means of protecting the rights of blacks and preventing racial discrimination.

He began his dissent by claiming that arguments of majority were based on “grounds entirely too narrow and artificial,” arguing that the purpose of the amendments was ignored in Bradley’s opinion. He followed by stating that all the establishments about which the Civil Rights Act of 1875 was concerned–theaters, inns, and railroads–all relied on the consent and cooperation of the states in order to function properly, and therefore the act could easily be deemed constitutional under the State Action Doctrine of the Fourteenth Amendment.

By focusing on the Fourteenth Amendment’s spirit of protecting the civil rights of all United States citizens and the pitfalls of Bradley’s argument, Justice Harlan defied racism that plagued the Supreme Court and the white American population. The lack of support within federal court for Harlan’s dissent and the delay of its impact represented the Supreme Court’s role in upholding the beliefs of the majority and the racism that plagued American legislature decades after the Civil War. Harlan’s strong opinion about the equality of blacks was unprecedented in the judicial sphere.

However, the fact that Harlan was the sole dissenter against the majority opinion’s harsh denial of rights to black citizens showed that even the more liberal proponents of black rights on the Supreme Court, like Bradley once was, were most concerned about staying in line with public ideas than expressing support for former slaves. Additionally, the premise of Harlan’s dissent was not accepted as truth until the 1950s and 1960s, when Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which resembled the act Harlan deemed unconstitutional more than 80 years previously.

It was only at this time in American history, when the majority of the population supported equal opportunity for all, that Harlan’s revolutionary opinion was legally reinforced. The Supreme Court of the United States is revered as one of the country’s most progressive institutions and entrusted to make its most momentous decisions on civil rights. Its justices are known to set transformative social policies with far-reaching implications.

However, the court’s decision in the Civil Rights Cases did not conform to its dynamic reputation. Instead, the majority’s declaration of the unconstitutionality of the Civil Rights Act of 1875 showed that the mere endowment of black citizens with the basic rights of service from hotels, trains and theaters was too radical for the justices of the time, who were more concerned with appeasing whites who were unhappy with the already large bolstering of black rights after the Civil War.

The court in this case cannot be viewed as a reformist institution but rather a defender of the popular white supremacist beliefs that plagued the nation. The fact that the rights denied to blacks in these cases were not granted to them until almost a century after the Civil War, at a time during which support for black rights was much more universal and organized, confirmed that the court is far less progressive than its reputation suggests.

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