Air For Band

This takes me back to high school band, back in 1992. I joined band my Junior year, and I believe this may have been the first song I ever played with the concert band — in warm-ups. Air for Band was almost always next on the agenda after our brief and basic long-tone warm-up every day. (Music majors, please note that the clarinets are featured, *and* that the main melody is in the difficult “throat tones” of the instrument. Excellent warm-up… in retrospect.)

It got to the point where Mr. W. would just start right into Air for Band before we even got our music out, and we’d have to spend the first phrase or two shuffling papers with one hand and playing with the other. Eventually, I think I had the whole first page memorized; even now, fifteen (!) years later, I can still recall the fingering of the first phrase, and I haven’t even touched a clarinet in nigh on ten years. (I can still sing my part all the way through, though, of course.)

Hearing the North Texas Wind Symphony play it so perfectly is almost surreal. In my memory, I can still hear the saxophones (behind me and to my left) completely missing the key change. (One in particular, usually, although they had their days.) Jim would be on the snare in the back; and Jeff, Eileen, or Katie would have the cymbals.

During my Junior year, I was first chair clarinet (yep, my first year in band — it was more because of my attitude than my ability, IMO). That meant I got to sit next to my best friend, Melody, who was first chair flute. We had a vibe goin’ on, be it in Concert Band or Jazz Band or after school in the cafeteria. Anyway, I remember it was strange when Mel graduated and I had to spend my Senior year playing Air for Band (and everything else) next to Heather instead.

They weren’t the “best years of my life,” not by a long shot… but sometimes I forget that they did have their moments. Air for Band was always one of those moments.