Saturday, March 20, 2021

Remote pride

Day 20 of 31 at TWT!
"MOMMY! My teacher wants me to share something about you in the marching band because we're going to learn about the marching band!" Sweetie's yelling out of the dining room from the middle of remote kindergarten.

Twisting myself around on the couch to hear her better, I pause in the new excavator book Rainbow and I are reading for about the twentieth time in the past two days. "What?"

"Yeah! We're going to watch a halftime show and she asked me to share something about you!"

A little warning would've been nice, but of course! I scoot Rainbow Girl off my lap, whispering "Mommy will be right back," and charge up the stairs two at a time. "Do you want me to get my horn?"

"Yeah! Your horn!" she shouts up to me, and I hear her announce to her class, "Mommy's gonna get her horn!" 

I peek into the extra bedroom for my hat, but it's not where I thought it was, and I think the class is waiting on me, so I grab my horn and rush back downstairs. 

"WOWWWWW! Oh my goodness, boys and girls! So cool!" her teacher exclaims in overly-enthusiastic kindergarten-teacher style as I hold my horn up to Sweetie's Chromebook. "Mrs. M, can you tell us what that is?!"

I recite my well-practiced answer for questioners of all ages, since no one ever knows what my horn is. "It's a mellophone. It's a marching French Horn!" (When people ask what I play and it's not there to show, I always add, "It's like a trumpet with a big bell," but right now, they can see it, so I skip that part of the explanation.) At my side, off screen, Rainbow Girl tugs at my shirt, babbles something I can't quite hear, and gazes up at my horn.

Me (closest) and my row in band, playing our horns at the "Skull Session" show before a home game.

"Can you PLAY something on your mellophone?" the teacher asks. 

"I was just going to ask if you wanted me to play something!" I grin. "How about if I play a little bit of 'Fight the Team'?" 

I'm transported back to one summer evening on the stage at Picnic with the Pops, when the quirky Maestro Albert-Georg Schramm of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra was so intrigued by my mellophone that he excitedly declared in the middle of our joint show that he had learned about a new instrument from us, and proceeded to ask me to demonstrate it to the whole crowd. (As squad leader of E Row, my seat was so close to his podium that his sweat flung on me with every animated conducting gesture!) I was terrified to make a mistake in front of my fellow bandmates and the symphony, but I played a perfect solo chorus of Fight the Team as my parents went crazy in their seats. 

Playing for a class of kindergarteners isn't nearly as intimidating, but I was at my best back then. Now, I take a deep breath and hope the valves don't stick too much. I've barely touched it in years, but my fingers and mouth don't let me down, and luckily, neither does my 16th birthday present. It's banged up and dirty, but only one valve sticks partway for a second, and I make it through one pretty decent chorus, peeking around the huge bell to keep one eye on the little self-view on Sweetie's screen to make sure the class can see the whole horn for the whole song. 

As I play, Sweetie's eyes sparkle as she looks back and forth between me and her class, sitting up tall. Her teacher starts clapping along to the song, and all the little kindergarteners in their muted squares clap too, forming a wiggly collage of silent cheering. 

"Woohoo!" her teacher cheers when I finish, and asks the class to thank me. I grin and answer her questions about halftime shows while Rainbow interrupts, still off-screen but chattering and trying to see if she can make a sound on my horn by putting the mouthpiece all the way in her tiny mouth. As the teacher starts sharing a halftime show on her screen, Rainbow hums into the mouthpiece and decides that she's successfully playing. When she finally loses interest, I run the horn back upstairs before it gets broken and take a better look around for my hat.

Running back downstairs, I sneak into the dining room and plop my hat on Sweetie's head as she watches the halftime video. Her biggest grin stretches across her face. 

proudly wearing my band hat in kindergarten!

Another perk of remote learning: the ability to spontaneously bring a family expert into a lesson! 

(There are better quality videos of Fight the Team, but I wanted to find one I was in! I'm in the middle of the front row of the band, just to the right of the director's podium.)


  1. Lovely Story!! It's a sweet pleasure to share what we love with our children!! Zoom classes sometimes have these retributions!

  2. Oh my. This is so sweet, and the photo of your daughter sums up your slice. She instils so much pride, happiness and contentment. You have the ability of putting us on the scene. I almost saw the teacher squealing in delight and little hands clapping in silent. Awesome.

  3. Wonder how many of these kindergarteners will eventually end up in a band. Great job mom! You made your daughter proud!


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