Symphony Night

Because my brother is a percussionist in the 4th-grade band, on Thursday night I felt like the only decent thing to do was attend his concert at the theater. We arrived 40 minutes early for some reason, and spent quite a while seated in the theater waiting for the suspense (or boredom) to reach unbearable heights.

I’m surrounded by people playing on their phones. Literally everyone is on a mobile device of some kind. I should have brought something like that. All I brought was this notebook that I’m using to take notes. Right now I’m just taking notes on the people around me. I spot a girl over there with hair that looks normal down to her ears, then becomes sticky and sparkly, like someone had coated it with glitter glue. I spot a woman with dark hair who looks to either side of herself constantly.

I spot a kid from my gym class who hates me with a passion. He’s here at the theater with his girlfriend. It doesn’t take too much imagination to make him look like another 4th grader and his date, his anxious mom.

Finally the orchestra starts playing, and it’s a bit painful to listen to. No offense to those involved; I realize how difficult it is, especially at that age, to pick up an instrument and become fluent with it in just eight or nine months. But the music wasn’t pleasant. I’m sorry.

I remember when I tried to pick up the violin at that age. It didn’t work out. I was bad even when compared to the 100-cat symphony that is the 3rd grade orchestra. Both my little siblings have incredible musical talent, and I got the short end of the stick. Also, at the time I thought playing for 150 hours a week was wretched and I never practiced. At the end of that year, I quit the violin.

The first song ends early. Or maybe it’s just so simple that it sounds like the prelude to an actual song, so I think it ends early. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th songs start up, and they aren’t any better. On the 6th song, an extra curtain opens up, and we can see a lot more violins and the conductor, who looks like he’s slowly going insane.

Eventually the 3rd grade orchestra ends and the 4th, 5th and 6th grade string players walk up. These guys are more talented. They start out with a funny, plucky stunt where everyone plays with his or her bow at the top of the instrument – 100 bows in the air. This morphs into a pretty good orchestral piece aided by drums.

After that orchestra, my little brother – and the rest of the 4th, 5th and 6th grade band – appears onstage. Maybe it’s just family pride, but I think the band was the best part of the symphony. The best part was a song called “Heavy Metal” – a very fun, jumpy-around piece that served as the conclusion to the performance.

My little brother, in the background, has to play the snare drums, the tambourine, and the triangle at various times, and so I see him shifting around with the other percussionists often. All the percussionists are in the back, so when they shift around it looks like bugs on the underside of a log.

This being my first elementary-school symphony since elementary school, I was taken aback by how bad the players were. My parents told me that the orchestra wasn’t nearly as bad as it was in past years, which is funny, because in grade school, when we were all forced to go listen to the performances, I remember admiring the orchestra. I guess my sense of taste wasn’t fully developed at that point.

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