I was going in and out of my nightly couch dozing when my wife said the magic words — “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “trombones.”
I think the last time I woke up so quickly was the one time she programmed “I Will Wait” by Mumford & Sons as the music for our alarm.
Note that I said “one time.” It turns out that 6 a.m. and high-speed banjos don’t mix very well.
Of course, it was glorious. How could it not be? It’s one of the great songs of our time, on the trombone!
I played trombone from the fifth grade through my sophomore year in college, when I left the college band — which was more of a community band, as there were only a few students in it — due to conflicts with the college radio station.
I had actually wanted to play the trumpet, but when I tried it, my bottom lip kept sliding out of the mouthpiece, so someone suggested the trombone, and it was love at first very loud honk.
For a small high school in upstate New York, we had a lot of really good trombone players. I wasn’t at the very top of the list, but maybe the next half-step or step below — good enough to make the band after only a few months of lessons, in my high school’s stage band as a seventh-grader, a regular in all-county bands, a member of the all-Northeast concert band (with the Lake Placid trip that came with it) my junior and senior years.
We never had the best parts, but “Pomp and Circumstance” was the worst. Every year at graduation, we had to provide the bass line of nothing but the same quarter-note, over and over and over until everyone had walked in.
Fortunately, it was a small high school.
We fancied ourselves quite the crew, sitting there at the back of the band, feeling like no one respected us, especially compared to the flute players. We were loud, (mostly) spectacularly immature, high school (mostly) boys.
In particular, we mocked the flute players in ways that I won’t elaborate on or encourage, since to be honest, it probably should have gotten us at least a talking-to.
When we marched in parades, we had to hold our trombones straight up and down in front of us — boring! Then one of the guys, Chris invented and up-and-down, side-to-side motion that we nagged our band director into letting us do at the end of parades.
The “rascal dazzle,” he called it.
We had a blast, literally and figuratively.
As a bonus, after I shared “Bonehemian Rhapsody” with him, my friend and fellow trombone player Gary found the group’s collaboration from 2017.
I never had to dress like that in my marching days. The photo is from Zoran Zonde Stojanovski on Unsplash.