More Strange Stories

"Notes da Capo" by John L. Puffenbarger

September, 1996

Here are some additional stories of events at concerts, festivals, and happenings in the life of music teachers to add to the tales from last year's columns:

A board of education member asked a county school superintendent why a music teacher was seen driving downtown during school hours several days each week. After talking with the teacher (who taught in several schools), the superintendent told the board member that the only way the teacher could travel from school A to school B was via downtown.

The Strawberry Festival Association in Buckhannon used to provide lunch for visiting bands before the students performed at an afternoon massed band concert. One year sandwiches for the noon picnic were made in advance in order to save time and were placed in a freezer. However, the committee members forgot to take them out of the freezer until time for lunch. Some ingenious band members placed their sandwiches on large rocks in the schoolyard, where they were thawed by the sun.

A band was to play at a state Majorette Melee, but the band had only one tuba player, who had just broken his leg. His leg was in a large cast and he could not march. When the band marched onto the field that night someone pushed a wheel chair with the tuba player in it onto the far side of the field, where he remained while the rest of the band performed the show.

It still happens! One high school band director always invited a visiting band at a football game to join with the host band in playing the "Star Spangled Banner." However, one night the guest band played the anthem in the key of B-flat while the host band played in A-flat. The band director learned that it is always good to double check small details.

The day before a southern West Virginia high school band was to play at a festival, the director instructed students to place their folders in a box in the front of the room. The next day when the band arrived at the festival they discovered that only half the students had followed the directions. Fortunately the festival director was able to supply the needed parts to the selected and required numbers, but half the band had to play the warm-up number from memory. The director had arranged the overture to Messiah for the warm-up.

When their football team won a berth in the state play-offs, band members were excited, since they would also perform at the game. The band director hurriedly wrote a new entrance drill for the pre-game show. He decided that the band would make a giant "S," the first letter of the school's name, and stretch the letter from goal line to goal line. With only a couple days to practice and no time to prepare another drill, the director discovered to his horror that the band could not play together due to the extreme distance. He came up with a solution, however. He placed the drum major in the center of the field and told everyone to watch his feet. It worked. Band members did not pay attention to the time delay in the sound of the march.