Staying in band would change life

I have had numerous opportunities to see the Clovis High School band perform, but I rarely got to enjoy it as much as I did Monday night.

It's easy to appreciate something when you aren't busy compiling football stats.

Though I didn't interact with the kids Monday nearly as much as the adult coaches — many of whom I've known for years — I found them to be talented, hard-working and generally enthusiastic about what they do in visual and aural terms.

The interaction made me think … what if that was the path I had taken during high school? I did band from fifth-grade through my freshman year of high school, and decided to leave it because A) I had the fine arts credit I needed for graduation, B) There were other classes I wanted to take seventh hour and C) Band always felt like an option to me, and never a priority.

I wonder how things could have changed if band was the priority. I also think of it every time a song from the '80s comes on the radio and it reminds me of high school pep band. "Talking in Your Sleep," "Sweet Child of Mine" and "Wild Wild West" will always sound better coming from a brass section.

But context matters. Had I gone all in on band, I would not have the same path as the kids of Clovis High School. I lived in a town of about 1,600 people, compared to 38,000 for Clovis. I attended a high school with a population of 240 — about two-thirds the size of CHS' 2012 graduating class.

There weren't many businesses to sponsor us, and there just weren't a lot of people to buy raffle tickets or pledge to march-a-thons. I can assure you no sales pitch works when you're selling door-to-door for your school, and a classmate answers the door. Less money, less travel, less memories.

Also, having fewer students means you're not going to have a band of 100-plus members like CHS. Most seasons saw our band include about three dozen kids who loved music, but often couldn't play at school functions because the first trumpet was the first-string quarterback and the drumline was the offensive line.

That wasn't too much of a concern for me, as I was never athletically gifted. But being in band would have changed a few things for me.

  • I still would have competed in speech and drama, though I might have had to leave events before the awards ceremony to make band functions. That down time is where I got to know some of my best high school friends.
  • Band was our seventh-period class. With that hour free, I was able to take other courses. Some weren't too fulfilling, like the class about work taught by the teacher who built the curriculum with her material from home economics classes. Some were more enlightening, like the creative writing class where I wrote 100 poems over a weekend when others turned in about 20. I might have learned how to play more of Dave Brubeck's stuff, but I might never have ended up in writing.

I guess the biggest change would be that instead of writing a column about how I could have been a musician, I could have instead penned a song about how I should have been a columnist.

I bet it would have sounded like an '80s song.

Kevin Wilson is a columnist for Clovis Media Inc. He can be contacted at 763-3431, ext. 313, or by email:

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