October 29, 2013: My thoughts and only my thoughts…

I’m trying to figure out how to say what I want to tonight.  There were two articles posted today about my high school band director who is retiring at the end of this year.  Those of you who actually know me, or at least see me on a daily basis, know how I feel about it, but that’s for another time and neither here nor there.  I was reading these articles, skimming what one of my classmates was saying about Doc and realizing I was really mad at these articles.  Yes, they’re kind and they say all the right things, but they also don’t convey, and of course can’t convey, the effect one teacher has had on so many students.  Those of us who had Doc almost all had our ups and downs with him, but we always knew how hard he worked and, even if we didn’t always appreciate it then, we grew to understand, respect, and appreciate when he pushed us, often to or past our breaking points.

These two articles, they glorify the best things about Doc, which is wonderful, but they a) do it too soon, and b) try to convey something that only those who were directly involved in the band program at some point in their lives could understand.  The frustrations, the tears, the physical pain that marching band can cause in your arms and shoulders, but also the great things! The legacy and community Doc created at our high school, the lasting friendships formed in the ensemble (good grief I met two of my best friends in band and I’ve been friends with both of them for almost 10 years now…think about that!), the love that grew in that ensemble, the family that, sooner or later, we all became.  Am I saying it’s wrong that these articles were written?  No!!! They are kind and respectful tributes to a retiring teacher who will be leaving one of my many “home’s” in May, but neither of those articles are able to capture what Doc created at my high school.  I mean for heaven’s sakes!  Doc was the first one to make scales fun!  (Er…am I not supposed to admit that scales are fun? 😉 )

I’m by no means saying that the band program at my high school was perfect, nor am I saying these articles are disrespectful, but, when you consider all that Doc means to the band program and the band alumni, I’m saying they’re missing something that won’t be fully understood by the community until after he leaves, but is already far too well understood by Doc’s current and former students.  It’s not as if the man is dead, it’s not as if he doesn’t still have 7 months left with the band, but staying at school from 7:00am-11:00pm nearly daily and single-handedly taking on 9 ensembles during the course of the school year…well you have to admit, that deserves respect and admiration.  So yeah, I was mad, maybe I still am a little, because these articles can’t show what Doc does for the school, the community, the students, the alumni, the band program…you have to experience that and you don’t learn how precious that can be until after it’s gone.  Just my thoughts…


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