“That’s an A”

At this past week’s Backpack High School Spring Band Concert, Mr. Fletcher (known as Top) surprised his students and the audience with a little demonstration he borrowed from another school to highlight the benefits of being a band member.

The band had just finished performing “March of the Patriots.”  After taking a bow, Top had the students go back to measure 22 and play a section of the piece again.  Then, turning to the audience, he said,

“That section of music has approximately 100 notes between the various sections of the band, which means you are actually hearing closer to 500 notes when you figure in all the students in the band.  And I think you would agree that they just played it reasonably well.  In fact, I don’t recall hearing any wrong notes.  So, if we were to give the band a grade for its performance just now, we would probably agree that they deserve an ‘A,’ right?”  Several people nodded their heads.

“Now, what if this had been a math test with 100 problems?  Or a spelling test with 100 words?  A student could miss five or six words or problems and still get an ‘A,’ right?  So, let’s see what this section of music would sound like if one person on each part were to play a few wrong notes.”

With that, he gave the downbeat and the band began.  And what a noticeable difference there was.  While the music was still recognizable, it was far from polished.

Addressing the audience once more, Top said, “By the standards of other courses, that’s an ‘A.’  I wonder what an ‘A-’ would sound like.”  This time he told several students to miss 10 notes, and the effect on the music was almost comical.

“You see,” he concluded, “if band students were to perform at the level they are expected to perform in other classes, no one would come to our concerts because they would stink.  The fact is that band students can’t settle for ‘good enough;’ we have to push ourselves to be nearly perfect on every piece we play, which is why Band is so important.  It is one of the few activities in which students succeed only by excelling far above and beyond what is expected.”


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Bob Shaver on May 5, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    Tell Top, good stuff!


  2. Will do – as soon as he gets back from taking the Band on a trip to FL…


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