I’m not sure how it happened, but I have a musical family.
Saturday two weeks ago proved it. My oldest son played trumpet in the University of Georgia Redcoat Band in a game against the University of Arkansas. My middle son played trombone in the Parkview High School Marching Band in the Lake Lanier Tournament of Bands competition. My youngest son performed the lead role of Professor Harold Hill in the Smoke Rise Academy of Arts production of “The Music Man Jr.”
That’s a lot of music in one day for one family, particularly one without much of a musical pedigree. The confluence of performances prompted several people throughout the weekend to say to Carla or me, “Where do your boys get their musical talent?”
Or, as my younger brother, Lee, put it in a Facebook Messenger note about Carlton’s performance, “Was he adopted and we missed this info? This can’t be Lance’s kid! How are all 3 gifted musicians?!?”
Good question, Lee.
Maybe it’s Carla’s genes. She took piano for nine years and played flute for several years, including her freshman year of high school in which she marched in the Washington County Golden Hawks Marching Band. But she confessed that her musical interest was primarily motivated by avoiding P.E., and her talents have, admittedly, eroded somewhat in the intervening years.
My music career is much more checkered. A vocalist of questionable quality, I famously failed at several solos at church, including an infamous rendition at age 13 of “My Tribute” which still elicits peals of laughter at family get-togethers.
I am equally suspect as an instrumentalist. I earned a B minus in flutophone in 2nd grade, and for Lee’s wedding rehearsal dinner, I performed “You Are My Sunshine” on the harmonica after several months of practicing. The command performance at my own rehearsal dinner was no more impressive.
During the past month I’ve witnessed six shows of “The Music Man” and “The Music Man Jr.” I’ve marveled that Carlton can carry a tune while executing movement. I couldn’t find the right note with a map, and I can’t even clap in time with music, much less move rhythmically in a way that resembles anything other than a muscle spasm.
Over the past seven years, I’ve spent most fall Friday nights and many Saturdays watching my older two boys perform with the Parkview Marching Band. I love seeing the band march into the stadium with the drum line tapping out a cadence. I can’t help but feel the joy Harris exudes when blows a post-touchdown rendition of “Hail to the Victor” on his trombone, and it’s fun to see him lead as a band captain.
Barron is the one who had to break us in as band parents. He started with guitar in elementary school, graduated to drums and picked up a trumpet in middle school. He’s always been musically inclined, adorning the music room in our basement with a chalkboard sign that says “Without music, life would B♭.”
Hilarious, I know, but it’s true.
This year he fulfilled a dream of playing with the Redcoats, and hopefully, he’ll march all the way to the national championship with them. A decade of labor is paying off. When he took the field at Bank of America Stadium for the Georgia-Clemson season opener, found his spot for the pre-game show, raised his trumpet to his lips, the realization hit him — “I’m really doing this!” he told us after.
I could write an entire essay about what it’s like for your kid to be a drum major, leading and conducting the band. Barron had two years of that experience at Parkview and a semester of it at Kennesaw State. We loved seeing him on the platform or at the front of the parade, and fortunately for him, he did not inherit my musical timing disability. The boy, and his brothers, mysteriously have rhythm.
Music means a lot to our family, and I’m grateful for this season of our lives. Given my lack of talent, I never would have predicted it. Hats off to all who dedicate their lives to teaching music in all its forms, particularly the teachers, theater directors and band directors who have molded my young men.
Right now our lives are filled with music and anything but flat.