How Can You Beat First Place?

Jazz’s band traveled to St. Louis this past Saturday for the Greater St. Louis festival (GSL). We didn’t go this time around. I wanted to go, but I knew it would be stressful trying to beat him home by 2:30 in the morning.

Yes. Two-thirty in the morning.

I get sleepy enough driving during the day, there was no way I would make the drive in the dead of night. Kevin probably could have done it, but honestly, driving that late at night is dangerous and what if we didn’t make it back before Jazz?

Ugh. I can’t even contemplate having to rouse a family member out of bed so they could pick Jazz up and keep him company until we got home.

No. Me, Kevin and Dude all stayed home Saturday.

Jazz took off from the school at noon. They made it to Fenton by 4:30 and had dinner then went straight to the Edward Jones’ Dome to warm up so they would be ready to perform by 8:30 p.m.

In the meantime, I spent the entire day watching the clock.

“He should be near St. Louis now.”

“He’s probably eating now.”

“I HOPE he’s eating now and not so excited that he forgets and then passes out from hunger on the field.”

“He should be at the stadium now.”

“The kids are warming up. I bet they’re doing those arm exercises that he loves so much.” (insert sarcasm here).

“Oh geez. It’s 8:15. It’s getting close. I bet they’re nervous. I’M nervous.”

“It’s 8:30! It’s 8:30!”

This is the part where I started chewing my already short fingernails.

And yes, I drove Kevin and Dude nuts.

I knew there were three more bands scheduled after Jazz’s and that the awards were going to be presented at 9:45. So, peace ascended on our household between 8:45 and 9:45.

Then the time rolled around.

“Oh geez, they should be announcing the winners now. I hope the guys did well!”

This is the part where I endured exasperated looks from my guys. We were watching “Mythbusters” and were quite into it when my cell phone rang.

“Put it on pause! Put it on pause!”

I answered my phone.



I could tell by his voice that something was up.

“Yeah! Hey buddy! How did it go?”



I think I hooped and hollered, but that whole time period was sort of an out-of-body experience so I’m not sure.

Yes. Our kids got first place. But not ONLY first place, they also received an award for Outstanding Visual Performance and Outstanding General Effect!!

I could hear all of his band mates yelling in the background.

They won first place!!! *squee!*

And you know what? There are 71 freshman in the band this year, which just about makes up half of the band. If our kids are doing this well now, just imagine how they will improve over the next three years!

(Hopefully – more on that in a minute).

Jazz called me back about 30 minutes later to tell me that they were projected to get back into town at about 1:45 a.m. So I set my alarm for 1:30.

When the alarm went off, I got up and turned my computer back on. The band director is on Twitter and I wanted to see if he had made any updates on where they were.

No updates.

My imagination started running away with me (it’s a curse) and I started imagining all sorts of things happening to the buses and had just about convinced myself that they were in trouble and I was going to have to go up to the school and rally with the rest of the waiting parents to try and figure out how to get a hold of the band director and find out why they hadn’t arrived yet when my cell phone went off.

Jazz was 10 minutes out of town.

By the time I reached the school, the buses were pulling in – perfect timing.

It was sort of amusing to watch the kids spill off the bus. They had all been asleep and were disoriented zombies as they stumbled back into the cold night air.

I spotted Jazz and helped him with his gear. While he took his instrument back to his locker inside the school, I unzipped his garment bag and hung his uniform back up (it was wadded up on the bottom).

We got back home and we all promptly went back to bed. (Kevin had gotten up to welcome him back home. Dude was dead to the world).

I had to take his uniform back to the cleaners today. One, it was sweaty (ew) and two, the kids had to change in the parking lot before getting back on the bus and it was dusty.

Picture that for a minute. Exactly how does that happen? In the parking lot? In front of God and everyone else?

I asked Jazz about it.

“So Jazz. When you guys change in the parking lot – how does that work, exactly? Do they put up a screen or something?”

“Nope. We all just change in front of each other.”

“You mean, the girls too? You guys don’t go off somewhere and the girls go off somewhere?”

“Nope. There’s no time. We just sort of deal with it.”

“Aren’t you tempted to peek?”

Jazz’s cheeks flushed a nice shade of pink at that point and I had my answer. But he shrugged it off and said, “We do what we have to do. And sorry I didn’t hang my uniform back up. We only had 25 minutes to change and get everything back on the bus.”

So … Jazz is learning a thing or two about modesty – or lack thereof, apparently. Actually, I’m okay with this. I mean, bodies are bodies and if you treat them as such, then really, what’s the big deal?

I was excited about Jazz going back to school today. I thought his entire band would celebrate their victory but …. um …. no.

“Did you guys have a party in band today?”


“No? Why not? Wasn’t your band director happy about your results?”

“Not exactly.”

I was flabbergasted. How could the man NOT be happy with a FIRST PLACE win?!?

Jazz said that the band director showed them a tape of their performance and pointed out all of the flaws (never mind what they did right. And I’d like to add, that when Jazz called me with the news of their win, he said that he felt like it was the best performance they had ever given.)

Their forms (movements) were off. Their lines were not straight. The music sounded off.

Blah. Blah. Blah.

This sort of put me in a challenging position. First of all, I was annoyed. Excuse the hell out of me? Is what I wanted to say, but I didn’t. I defended the band director, but at the same time, told Jazz that he should feel very proud of his performance and never apologize for doing his best.

BUT, at the same time, there’s always room for improvement.

The challenge is, of course, finding the balance between doing your best and doing it PERFECTLY, I suppose.

I’m still a bit annoyed with the band director. How dare he pop these kids’ bubbles! They have worked their ASSES off and it paid off in spades this past competition. To suggest that they didn’t give their all or did a sloppy job is sort of insulting to the judges, don’t you think? That maybe the judges didn’t really know what they were talking about?

BUT, I don’t want to tell Jazz that he should just STOP and give up trying to do better.

We can all do better.

So … it was a weird position to be in. I mean, the kids got FIRST PLACE, how much better could they have gotten!

BUT, the band director knows what he’s talking about and I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt. I just hope he’s not cutting his nose off to spite his face and he ends up losing half of the band next year because they’ve lost their motivation to try and please the man, you know?

Jazz has one more football game Thursday night and then they travel up to Columbia for their last competition of the season. We’re going to try and go – simply because it’s the last competition of the season. We’ll see how it works out time wise. We haven’t gotten the schedule yet so I’m not sure when they’re supposed to get back into town, but the band is the last band scheduled to play (naturally) and then if they make finals, they’ll have to perform in finals. Which means it’ll most likely end up being another dead of the night sort of thing. So, we’ll see.

I’ve ordered a DVD of the band’s performance (and all of the bands that competed in his category), so hopefully, when I get that, I can convert the performance to video and post it for those of you interested in seeing the performance. I can’t make it public (due to copyright issues), but I’ll make it private and keep it up for about a week so friends and family can watch it.

I’m really looking forward to seeing how they did and IF I think they did as poorly as the band director THINKS they did.

I mean, I’m no expert, I’m just a proud mama, but dang it, how can you beat FIRST PLACE?!?

Grr. I’m annoyed.