(Photo credits: Mr. Chris Barnum, PHS band director)
When Writers Have Nothing To Say
The band room at Prospect High School is far smaller than most band rooms are in the esteemed year of 2016, especially those in district 214. The ceiling may appear high and strident to newcomers to a fine arts department, but compared to the many newly renovated, gleaming, technologically advanced band rooms across the district, our band room is small and not the fanciest. Despite this, the band room serves as a home to a great number of students and staff, more than possibly any other place in the high school.
The band room is shaped like a square with two rectangles cut out of two of its corners. Its light is a stale white, and the industrial white ceiling and the old, blue-flecked, worn, even cracked tile floor do nothing to make the light less harsh. There is a podium in the center of the band room before a series of dull blue gray risers, each of which accommodate a row of chairs where the musicians sit and play their instruments. The chairs are plastic, black, and often flecked with paint, but each band member grows fond of their own respective chair. He or she will sit in the same chair every day for an entire school year, and even when the chairs are identical, sometimes the student can tell which chair is his.
The risers climb up the white tile floor towards the gleaming white brick walls. All across these white walls there are rows and rows of vertical slits, probably designed for sound purposes but used during marching season to hang our uniforms. The white walls are lined with metallic blue plaques hung askew in a neat row all the way around the room like a rim, most of them a reward for the band earning a prestigious placement at some competition in some year. Behind the ancient gray podium, which is backed by a very precarious metal bar that you would be unwise to lean against, there is a broad white board usually decked out with reminders or upcoming events. In the upper righthand corner of this board, normally the agenda for the class day is written, whether that be a song during concert season or a chart during marching season. There is a table in front of the white board, constantly cluttered with abandoned jackets, fake flowers from last year’s show, trophies, lost water bottles, or even empty boxes. There are two large garbage cans by the board as well, both of them often smelling faintly questionable or brimming with a great amount of paper post screw-ups with the copy machine. There is a chair next to this cluttered table, which is usually where the drum majors, those who have no section, sit during rehearsal. It’s a comfy chair in comparison to the plastic black thrones across the room.
The first cut-out corner is not inside the band room, just the wall roughly slicing into the room so that a practice room can exist with that space. This wall is a bulletin board, faint gray and littered with thumb tacks, where paper reminders or lists or results are posted. Opposite this square cut out is the band director’s office, which is a completely different story. It is orange lit, messy, and small in that office. Often over five people try to huddle in there at the same time in an attempt to discuss marching band activity, usually staff members. The desk is covered in papers, tape, staplers, speakers, forms, bouncy balls, sunglasses, you name it. It smelled of rotting X substance in there for the past two weeks until we the drum majors managed to sniff out two dead mice caught in traps. There are unassuming gray blue cabinets lining one wall and a clear glass window lining another, though there’s often a movable white board standing on its precarious wooden frame blocking that glass window. Traumatic events often take place in this office, whether that be risky auditions or stern conversations. It grows at least fifteen degrees warmer in the office if a traumatic event is occurring. I really don’t know why.
Like any home, a wide range of emotions have been strongly felt in the Prospect High School band room.