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In Print: On News Stands Now


by Tumbleweed Smith

I want to go to the Orange Bowl game. It's on my bucket list. I don't care who's playing. I'm going for the halftime entertainment. As I recall, it's produced by the Disney folks. I have to go back to memory because lately the halftime shows are blocked out or we see dim images of them while we see and hear three talking heads trying to analyze the game. To my way of thinking, that is poor television. It seems the only time we get to see the halftime extravaganza is during the Superbowl when a Superstar performs.

My days as a trumpet player in the Arlington Heights High School Yellow Jacket Band in Fort Worth mean a lot to me. We got to school early during football season and practically froze out on the practice field getting our routines ready. Halftime was every bit as important as the game itself. Because the school had more band members than football players, many parents of band members attended the games and brought friends. I had a high school girl friend who assured me she could distinguish the sounds coming from my horn from the others when the band was performing on the field.

I remember the radio guys doing the high school games would point their microphones to the bands during halftime. To them, it was a break and gave them time to have a hot dog. They said something like, "Now let's go down to the field to hear the band." Admittedly, the sound was muffled because the microphone was in the press box far away from the musicians, but the band members knew their music was being heard beyond the stadium. It made them play better.

College and University bands are big time. The flashy drum majors and majorettes add a lot to the overall football spectacle. Their sparkling uniforms, shiny batons and polished instruments make for real excitement. It a lot more fun to watch the band than to see three or sometimes four guys talking football. Puh-leeze. Give us a break. Since when does talking replace showbiz? How many commentators and analysts do we need, anyway? You've got two guys broadcasting the game and a whole bunch of people trying to tell you what's going on. Let the announcers do the play by play and let the audience do its own analyzing.

The Aggie Band is probably the best show band in the state. Band members take six steps every five yards instead of the usual eight-steps routine that other bands use. The slower pace gives the band a strength and interest that capture the audience's attention. The high boots and military bearing make the intricate maneuvers even more impressive. One researcher of the prestigious Aggie Band says some of their routines are impossible to do, according to the computer. But the Aggies do them. Think how the members of the Aggie Band feel when they know the only audience that sees them is in the stands and some of them have gone to the restroom or concession stand. High school and college bands are important. At a time when the arts are being de-emphasized in schools, the bands should get a chance to be seen and heard. Band members work hard.

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