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From The 13th Chair Trombone Player

Humorous and inspiring author DJ Corchin offers his unique observations about life in the world of marching bands.

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From The 13th Chair Trombone Player:
When I Grow Up...


By DJ Corchin
Posted January 22, 2012

From The 13th Chair Trombone Player It's Bring-An-Adult-To-School day! Second Grade's day to celebrate the diverse professions of the students' adult mentors. Each student in Ms. Rumplebump's class, which during another project earlier in the year nicknamed themselves, "The Rumple Bumpers," gets to describe to the rest of the class what their guest does and why it's important. As the students begin their presentations, the adults mingle a bit in the back listening in. First up, Jenna Berell brings her Aunt Staci up (that's Staci with an "i" as she was born in 1968 which makes her a teenager of the 80's...therefore...it's Staci with an "i").

"This is my Aunt Staci...with an i. She is a dentist and takes care of people's teeth. This is important because if you don't take care of your teeth they will fall out. Then you won't be able to smile and say cheese."

The rest of the students applaud while Staci waves and says hello. Next Tamika Blake brings up her dad. "This is my dad, Brian (giggle). He is a lawyer for a large medicine company. This is important because if too many people sue the medicine company, they won't be able to make the medicine anymore and people can get sick."

Awkward silence ensues followed by a random clap by Lilly who really wasn't paying attention.

A few other students continue to talk about their guests. All sorts of professions were in the room, Fire Inspector, Bookstore Owner, Engineer, Plumber, etc... Each time, the class politely applauds. Lastly, after a long hour, Holland Briskman brings up his father. He holds his hand, looks up at him, smiles and says, "This is my dad. He writes music for marching bands all across the country."

At that moment, the entire class of students erupts in thunderous applause! The children clap as loud as they can, sometimes banging on their desks. A small girl in the second row breaks down in tears she is so overcome with joy. Two small boys hi-five each other twice (they missed the first time). Another group of children in the corner put their arms around each other and jump up and down with huge smiles as only small children can. Papers are flying around in slow motion as student's arms are raised in excitement. They all tire themselves out after about five straight minutes of celebration and fall on the floor with their feet in the air. They've never been so happy in their lives.


I have a few friends that make a living writing music for bands. They're doing what they love. I often wonder if their children think what they do is interesting. I guess it depends on if the friend is a good parent. (I will not disclose that here. Well, OK, one of my friends is a terrible parent, but he's awesome at Call of Duty). Being able to make a living off what you love to do is a huge luxury now-a-days. No secret there, but with so many people doing jobs they need to do, not want to do, I wonder what is going through the still pure, innocent brains of young children. Do they still dream of being an astronaut, rock star, or President? (I know I still do. Personally I want to be an adored Puppeteer in a world where magic exists.)

Last November, at the Bands of America Grand National Finals, I saw many things (see Top 20) but something in particular really struck a chord with me: the amount of little kids I saw attending the event. As I was walking through the concourse I looked outside the glass doors just outside an entrance. I saw three young children "playing" marching band. It was really cool to be honest. One girl had a small flag, a young boy had a toy trumpet, and a second boy was conducting them. I watched them for about 15 minutes having a great time. They were tossing, fake playing, and trying to march in step. The little conductor was actually queuing the trumpet to play and then stopped the whole thing to tell them what to do next. Of course, he would practice his salute as well. This was a far cry from when I was growing up and we played ThunderCats (I was always Lion-O).

It was fun to see parents and children interacting around band and music. In a world where we see kids playing "guns" and yelling things like, "Hey I shot you, you're dead. No cheating." It was refreshing to see interactions that involved construction versus destruction. Don't get me wrong, I love building a good fort and then pretending to defend the earth from aliens that want to suck our brains out for food, but you have to see the positivity in children dreaming they are their older sister as Drum Major of a 200 piece band.

This got me thinking about how we can continue to leverage music to help the world be better. I'm very interested in the social implications that music and music groups have on kids. I wonder if we are teaching our students not just to be great musicians, but great mentors as well. Right now I think we just accept that great leadership and mentorship are results of being involved in music and music groups. We're not blatantly teaching that and connecting the dots for students. My question is do we have a responsibility to do so, or are we just supposed to teach music? My answer is that we MUST connect the dots.

I've met teachers who feel that their job is to teach music and that results in "good people." I think that's lazy. To quote a really fun motivational speaker, "If you can, you must." And to be fair, that teacher may not have the skill set to able to connect the dots for his/her students. But I have a high standard for educators and feel if you can't connect the dots, either learn to or get out of the way for someone who can. Here it is in simple terms. The more children that dream of being involved in music, the better the world will be. Now, making a living doing that is next to impossible right now. But the minute we teach that it's scary to dream of being a marching band composer, is when we limit our potential. And since defending our planet from alien invaders isn't exactly a booming industry right now, limiting our potential is the last thing we should be doing ;)

About the Author: DJ Corchin is author of the celebrated humorously inspiring book, Band Nerds Poetry From The 13th Chair Trombone Player. You can follow his blog The13thChair.com to catch his thoughts in real time. He was a featured performer in the first national Broadway tour of the Tony and Emmy award winning show, BLAST! where he was best known as the "unicycling trombonist." His other children's books including Sam & The Jungle Band, You Got A Boogie, and the I Feel... series were published to rave reviews. A pop recording artist out of Chicago and former high school band director, he continues to be involved in marching bands and music education through speaking events, competitions, and organizations such as Music for All. Mr. Corchin welcomes your comments via email. For more of his work please visit www.djcorchin.com. Mr. Corchin is an independent contributor so his views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Marching.com.


Text by DJ Corchin. Trombone illustration by Dan Dougherty.

Copyright 2012 Marching.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published or redistributed without permission.


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