Tracy enjoys a bit of success with the rest of the Harborough Band and reflects on what it takes to keep in time with others, in and out of the band room.
The stage lights were beating down as I raised my cornet. We all anticipated the coming cue from our director. The auditorium was lingering in the background, dark and quiet, filled with a nervous audience compiled of supporters and rivals. The first measure is percussion only. Don’t let your adrenaline get the better of you, I told myself. Our director raised his baton, we drew our collective breath, and Sam hit the drumhead with her mallets in a thunderous roll. Here we go!
13 bands were competing in our section at the 2022 Midlands Regional Championship. After an intense month of practice, our fate in the table rested on this one performance. We’d put aside work and family commitments to repeatedly come together to practice, playing the test piece over and over again. Sunday mornings were the hardest, leaving my usual lie-in for the freezing cold of our rehearsal space.
After our competition slot, we sat with bated breath in the Corby Cube, teetering on the edge of the red retractable seats. All 13 bands had crowded into the auditorium for one purpose only – to hear the results. When the judges announced that we’d placed second, we jumped and cheered in surprise. All that extra time and work had been worth it! Instead of rehearsing tonight, we’d be raising our glasses back in Market Harborough, the place we represented with pride and enthusiasm.
The time spent rehearsing had been difficult, but it was necessary to get close to mastering the communication that’s vital to playing 27 instruments together as one. It involves a level of listening that’s rarely replicated in other areas of life. We must read the music notation together, breathe together, watch the conductor together and interpret the dynamics together. We must use our ears and our eyes to musically sway together, articulating quickly and efficiently as one. Not only did I play a song with 27 other brass players that frosty Saturday, but I moved with a group of eclectic humans, through an intangible aural landscape. Now we must somehow do it all over again, to succeed at the national competition in September. Wish us luck!
Not unlike my role in the Harborough band, my place at Rambutan allows me to finely tune my communication skills in real-time. We need to listen carefully to each other through emails, texts, chats, Teams meetings and in person. We take each other’s suggestions and feedback to heart, to improve our contribution and make sure what we’re presenting to the world is a collaboration that reflects our shared vision, not just a solo. I’m still learning how to listen better in an office environment, with listening being one of my personal goal areas, in which I’d love to improve. My teammates’ patience is essential to my growth and I appreciate every minute of it!