Of Light Rain and Freezing Wind
[A/N]: I am not in pit, but my friends Cara and Nathan are, and this is based on what they told me. I was on the field in battery, having a blast...but here's their side.
Cara's hands were in her dark green jacket. She wished that she was a member
of the brass section, just for this moment, so that she would be wearing
at least light gloves to guard her mallet hands from the bitter cold. She
gripped the edge of her marimba and pushed it a few more feet. The band was
slowly entering the outdoor stadium for the Texas State Competition. Being
from south Texas, Cara was not used to this weather. 'It must be below 20
out here, not to mention the stupid wind,' she thought to herself. 'Oh well,
I guess it doesn't matter. My hands will be warmed up in a few minutes.'
They finally made it to the field. They soon saw that not only was it an
outdoor stadium in cold, wet weather: it was an old grass stadium as well.
Grass that had been marched on and fallen on several times that day already,
and you could hardly see the green of the grass, because the dead grass and
mud was overtaking it. It was positively disgusting. Cara silently thanked
the Lord that she did not have to march. She turned her marimba to face the
crowd, and checked last details. 'Is the suspended cymbal in place? Are all
my mallets lined up correctly in the bag? Are there no loose keys?' Finally,
she decided that all was ready, and stood in set position, hands behind the
marimba, mallets crossed. The rest of the pit set up fairly slowly, as all
of their hands were beginning to lose feeling. They all hoped that their
hands would warm up by the time they finished the opener.
The drum major lifted her hands and the pit members readied themselves to
count several measures before they placed their first run. The first forty-eight
counts of the show was a silent rifle feature, as the black props were moved
out of the way to reveal one line of colour guard after another. A suspended
cymbal roll and a couple of mallet notes were coming up in ten counts...eight
counts...four counts...two three four...
A small whine escaped Cara's throat when she realized how hard it was to
move her mallets to do her suspended cymbal roll. She forced herself to use
technique instead of just banging the cymbal, and prepared herself for the
sixteenth note run coming up. The woodwinds went first, and then the pit,
and...Cara's fingers were frozen. None of the right notes were hit on the
run, making it sound like a garbled mess. 'Maybe the judges will think we
did that on purpose,' Cara hoped to herself, although she knew that would
As the opener drew to a close, everyone in the pit had completely given
up using any kind of technique whatsoever. They held the mallets in any way
they could to keep them from falling out of their frozen hands. The final
cymbal crash lingered longer than it was supposed to, for only some of the
pit could handle grabbing the icy cymbals to choke the crash. The props changed
to silver and thus the music transitioned into the ballad...this song would
not be so difficult right? At least not for the marimbas. Cara glanced over
at the vibraphone captain, whos hair was a complete mess. Nathan's normally
jetblack hair, gelled down to its death, was now brown, and gaining volume
by the second. He was also holding his mallets in a way that had never been
taught, and was clearly miserable when it came to playing any form of notes
on his instrument. He glanced at Cara, who mouthed the words 'My hands are
frozen!' at him, to which he nodded, and mouthed 'Me too'.
The props were now lined up, and changed to a red, yellow, and blue geometrical
pattern to surprise the audience. The pit captain played the beginning tambourine
part to enter the drum solo, and Cara began to panic. The very first run
of the drum solo belonged to her, and her only, as a marimba solo. It was
only 12 counts long until the other marimbas came in, but it was long enough
for Cara to start crying. Nathan and Cara glanced at each other one last
time, sadness filling them both, and Cara squeezed her marimba mallets as
tight as psosible, and attempted her solo.
Bb A Bb A Bb A...blah. The only notes that escaped the marimba for those
counts. Cara could hardly play with the other five marimba players as they
came in, as she was so close to tears. 'I can't play anything!' she screamed
in her mind. The marimba part ended, and the melody was handed to the vibraphones,
who did an equally painful job of pulling it off. Nathan already had tears
streaming down his face, and the sight of her fellow pit members bawling
made tears escape Cara's eyes as well. She wanted nothing more than to end
the show right there, and hide forever. The brass and woodwinds re-entered
the music, and the drum solo ended. The closer...finally.
The title Tournaments did not seem to fit the current mood in the pit at
all, for none of them felt the desire to fight any longer, for they had been
defeated...utterly defeated by the piercing cold around them. All hope for
making finals, or even placement, was lost. There was not a soul in pit who
was not either crying or holding back tears. The mood was slightly lifted
as a line of guard girls ran in front of the pit, all falling as they went.
Little did they know that behind them, the marching drumline was having a
blast with the weather, and because they dug into the ground, almost no one
fell. A sousaphone, however, did fall onto another sousaphone, bending the
tuba bell into an almost perfect taco shape, and nearly crushing the sousaphonist.
He would later earn the nickname "Taco Bell", and the story would be told
across the band community for the rest of the season.
The props changed to a rainbow of colours and the guard had changed their
outfits in this way as well. While the band was partying and laughing about
Taco Bell, the pit was suffering a horrible, horrible failure (or so they
thought). Cara felt as if she would never stop crying, and Nathan the same.
They played the last rhythm of the show, and as the brass popped their horns
down, down went the shoulders of half the pit, exploding in devastated tears.