Jacob Haller (jwgh) wrote,
Jacob Haller

the cowbell story

I stumbled across this today. I wrote it and posted it to USENET four years ago.

When I went to high school I was in chorus, band, and jazz band. (It was not until our senior year that our physics teacher told us that the proper term for someone like this was a 'band fag'.) I would often bring a tape recorder to jazz band and tape it so I could "practice" my "improvising" at home. This meant that the events that follow were captured on tape, a tape that I've since lost but one which provided endless minutes of entertainment to me and my family.

One semester, there was one particular pieces of music we were doing for jazz band that gave us particular trouble. It was "Everything's All Right" from Jesus Christ Superstar. We had trouble with it because it was in an odd time signature and so we had trouble keeping the tempo. So we practiced it and practiced it and yet verily did we continue to suck in great abundance.

Finally our band director, who was known to have a bit of a temper, had had enough. He told us that he was going to get a cowbell from the band cabinet and use it to bang out a regular beat so it would be impossible for us to lose the tempo. So he went up to the back of the band room, leaving us to our own devices.

Listening to the tape I made, you can hear the students chatting and laughing and basically not taking the whole thing particularly seriously. Meanwhile, in the background, you can hear the noise of the bad director throwing stuff around in the back of the band room, looking for the cowbell and generally making a lot of noise. Clearly the man was feeling some frustration.

This continued for five minutes or so, when suddenly a piercing shout was heard from the back of the band room: "AAARGH! I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU LOST THE COW BELL!" Having delivered this line, the band director then walked back to us, shouting to us about how we couldn't be trusted to take care of band equipment and were all slovenly and things like that. The cow bell figured prominently in all of this. He continued on this tirade for some time, then started to calm down.

"I'm sorry," he said. "It's just that I know that last week we [he and the band equipment manager] spent a lot of time and effort cleaning up the cabinet, making sure that all the equipment was there and in the right place. And now, it's a week later, and it's a total mess ... and I can't find the cowbell."

Having emerged from his dark tunnel of anger and despair, he now brightened up.

"Still, let's move on." [At this point he picked up a large metal music stand and placed it by where he would be conducting. He then whaled on it several times with a drumstick, making quite a din.] "Perfect."

And so he whaled away at the music stand, five beats to the bar, making the perfect acompaniament to "Jesus Christ Superstar". (And if you listened v-e-r-y closely, you could hear Andrew Lloyd Webber rolling over in his grave. From the FUTURE!)
Tags: kid jwgh

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