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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Music Note

When it rains, it pours...  Another "old school" story warrants attention today.

Anthony Angeli died a few days ago.  For many years, he was band director in the Mid Valley School District.

I joined the band in 5th grade.  We were a rag tag bunch way back then, without any support from the district.  We didn't even have uniforms.  White shirts.  Blue pants.  That was it.  The ranks were thin.  So thin, Angeli had to supplement our efforts by playing his own trumpet, along with us, at football games.

In most school districts, a 5th grader couldn't get into the "big band."  At MV, so few students got involved, we were all in one small sized unit.  Speaking of small, I must have been quite the sight back in 5th grade.  I didn't hit my growth spurt til my sophomore year, so I was dwarfed by the trombone I played.  Getting it on and off the school bus was a major endeavor.

What do I remember about those early days?  We played a lot of the traditional stuff, the college songs, the marches, the patriotic tunes.  It was supplemented by pop hits.  Even though I'm not a Neil Diamond fan, I thought we did a decent job on "Sweet Caroline."  We tried Sammy Davis Jr.'s "Candy Man."  Hideous.  Beyond awful.  Plus, trombone played harmony, not melody.  We didn't get to do the good stuff.

Angeli stepped aside two years into my run.  He tried his best.  It never quite came together.  Angeli was also the junior high music teacher.  I'll always remember the way he announced my name during roll call.  Pa-loooooom-bo.  When I tried to correct him, I got a lecture on the proper pronunciation of Italian names.  I gave up trying to change him after that.

The new guy came in and saw our limitations.  He peeled us back to a bunch of college fight songs.  Boring, but within our talents and grasp.  He eventually built up the program from there, and I understand the unit became rather good.

I stayed in the band for two years after Angeli left.  I never really should have joined in the first place.  It was fun for a while, but music was never really my thing, and I was never really any good at it.

My opening, my way out, came during my freshman year.  I became more interested in academics than music.  Band practice called, and I was constantly getting yanked out of a science class I liked.   I protested to the new band director.  He just didn't get it.  To him, there was only one thing, and that was the band. That was enough.  It was time to go.  No regrets.  Science was more important than music in my book.  I was at the time in my school life where I was deciding what I wanted and what I liked.  Band required so much time and effort.  I didn't want to go in that direction.  It was no one's fault.  A five year run was much longer than I expected.

Anthony Angeli will be remembered as a man with passion for music, and a man who did the best he could with what he had to work with.  I'm glad I knew him.  My condolences to family and friends.