The fourth and final part of this photographic celebration of high school marching bands isn’t potential or kinetic or unusual.
It’s the end of the show.
The awards ceremonies.
Whole bands sitting in the stands, cheering the winners’ exhibition performance in a display of sportsmanship we probably ought not take for granted.
It’s the entire extended band family bidding farewell to two Millers after thirty amazing years.
Starting tomorrow, for several consecutive weeks, it will all happen again. Some of the same youth and lots of new ones will perform new shows for the first time in competition — and, too soon, for the last time.
Another year of work and discipline. Another season of beauty and grace.
I know the educational reasons for having music programs — and drama and sports and other such programs in schools. At least I know most of them. I know that these efforts, seriously engaged in, develop the mind, the heart, the body, the character — the person. I know they are a laboratory, in which youth can explore excellence in a relatively safe, supervised environment. I wrote about that once, in a season when the human cost of such efforts had become heroically, tragically high, and it was natural to wonder if it was worth it.
It is worth it. The reasons make sense to me, and I see them in action in my children, just as I see them retrospectively in myself, playing in the high school band from eighth grade, playing on the basketball team, and singing for two years in a fine ensemble we called the Snake River High School Chamber Singers.
All of this justifies the cost of instruments, private lessons, and band fees — even all the oh-dark-thirty driving between home and school.
All of this makes me willing to bear the cost.
Why I am glad to bear the cost is easy to remember and easy to see. I saw and remembered it tonight. It is more difficult to describe, but that is my object here.