We May Play With Old Folks, But We Don’t Oom Pa

The community band Rhiannon and I joined (concert this Thursday) is filled with a fair number of people who are getting on in years. And I say good for them for finding something they obviously enjoy to fill some of their retirement time. In fact, some of them are very talented musicians. It’s impressive to see a little old man playing a euphonium that is slightly larger than his own torso and producing a pure and effortless sound.

However, the band has recently begun sitting closer and closer to the conductor. This is a conscious decision – whoever is setting up the chairs is arranging them this way. Last week, we had to squeeze chairs in to accommodate all the people. (Nothing like the rehearsal before a concert to get everyone to practice one last time.) The main reason behind this squeeze is the fact that people can’t see the conductor’s baton.

Directly behind the conductor is a dark section of wall – this is the view that I have and it makes it very easy to pick out a white baton. To the sides of the room are lighter gray walls, and I could see how this could make it difficult to see a small white stick against this background.

The first attempt to help was wrapping orange electrical tape around the baton, and besides looking the director was dancing with a glow stick at a rave, it didn’t really seem to help the people who were having problems. Last week in one song, I had the opportunity to play from the side of the band. There is no problem with the baton, conductor, or wall color. That is why the orange tape didn’t help.

The people with the beautiful sound and plenty of time on their hands – maybe not all of them have the best eyesight anymore. Solution – move everyone closer together and closer to the conductor. Problem solved.

Except the timpani player – I think he is doing good to see past his own stand. Either that or he doesn’t really remember how to play percussion anymore.