More Grin and Bear It Stories

Notes da Capo" by John L. Puffenbarger

April/May 1996

As was mentioned in this column in the last issue of NOTES A TEMPO, there is "something to be nervous about" at musical performances. Here are a few additional actual happenings.

Sometimes participating in a parade can be dangerous. Once the Fairmont State College Band was marching in the annual FSC Homecoming Parade. The driver of the float directly behind the band became blinded by the decorations on the float, turned toward the sidewalk, and hit two clarinet players as he ran into the back row of the band. One young lady was knocked down and could not continue to march. The other student, a young man, marched from downtown Fairmont to the college field. Later he was taken to the hospital where it was discovered that he had tom a ligament in his ankle. He was dedicated enough to march with the pain.

The Fairview High School Band once was playing a song which featured the flute section, and the flutes were to enter after an eight-measure introduction. However, they began playing four bars early. The band realized what had happened and skipped four measures. Everyone, that is, except the lone tuba player who continued playing his part, with the bass line not quite fitting the chords which the band played.

A junior high band attending a festival warmed up in a classroom and had time to check only the brass section on the school's Strobotuner. The band then went to the festival warn-up room where the director tuned the woodwinds. However, the tuner in the warn-up room was set about one-half step higher than the first tuner. Being in a hurry and feeling a certain amount of pressure, the band director did not check the second tuner's calibration before his group rushed off to play. One can only imagine the intonation that resulted when the band played in the auditorium!

A clarinetist had burned his fingers on a hot teakettle the afternoon of a solo and ensemble recital. He received a shot for pain at a doctor's office, and then played Carl Maria von Weber's "Concertino" without missing a note.

A central West Virginia band director was surprised to find a doll baby on his music stand when he walked onstage to begin directing a concert. His wife had delivered a son that morning. The doll was from members of the band and had a note attached which read, "Congratulations!" This same band director had received a traffic ticket from an unsympathetic policeman while driving quickly (speeding?) to the hospital that morning from his school.

A music teacher left the building to travel to another school. When he reached his car he remembered that he had left something in the music room. He put the music he had with him on top of the car and returned to the building, picked up the item he had forgotten, and once again walked to the parking lot. He started his car and drove down the highway, whistling a song his group had just worked on, while the music he had left on top of his car was blowing all over the landscape.

[There is enough space for your editor to add another story from a West Liberty State College recital many years ago. College maintenance personnel were allegedly working on some paneling above the recital hall stage just before the program. While a young lady was playing a flute solo with piano accompaniment, unknown to her a few pieces of insulation began slowly to fall behind her, giving the effect of snow. This falling "snow" gradually increased in intensity until a large piece of the ceiling paneling suddenly let loose and fell to the stage floor with a resounding thud, while the "snow" turned into a veritable blizzard of insulation. At least this student will always remember that when she played her solo she really "brought down the house! "