Looks Good on Paper

(From 2014 – 2019, this contained some babble about a “blog tour” that didn’t go very well. But the “hardware record” is important to me, so that’s why this post hasn’t been deleted.)

I mentioned the other day that I’d only been to a national lakeshore (referring to the fact that I’ve–however indirectly–set foot on the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore). It turns out that’s erroneous–I’ve also been to the Smoky Mountains. How on Earth I didn’t know the Smokies are a national park, I’ll never know, but it clearly slipped my mind. I’ve been there (and to Gatlinburg) twice…once when my parents were still married and once with my high school band. The first time, I even swam in a mountain-fed stream. (SOO COLD!)

That got me thinking about being with the band. Some bands, when they go on band trips, they go on band trips. Disney World, lots of fun, lots of sightseeing…and who knows. Maybe they played once or twice. But not us. When we went on a band trip, we honestly “went on tour” (as Dr. Sullivan was fond of calling it). Now we hardly played multiple cities on multiple dates, but we didn’t mess around, either. We went to competitions and were expected to do as well as any other time. And since other bands were afraid to play after us (that’s what they always said!), you can tell we hardly pussyfooted around.

Once upon a time, I had a breast full of medals. Most of them were earned in tandem with the concert band; but a few, I earned on my own over the years. I’ll be honest with you–I was no great shakes at music. I probably could have been pretty darn good if I’d thrown myself into it–especially since I was told when I was younger that I had the rare ear that could help me play just about anything. But music was never my passion…it still isn’t. I have three wonderful handcrafted flutes that spend more time put away than out and being played. I almost never practiced, but my “talented ear” left me as a bastion of mediocrity and kept me out of last chair–at least after I stopped playing the French horn. I earned at least two second place medals playing solos in junior high1, but I still wonder how much of that was my supposed talent and how much of it was “the judges don’t want to piss off the Charlotte directors”.

My undistinguished playing kept me firmly in the minor leagues through my entire band career. In junior high, I spent two years as a loyal Blackberry2. In high school, I played in the ninth grade/concert band for four years–the Lugnuts to the symphony’s Tigers3. The symphony, of course, always went home with all the major hardware, but my high school band resume is far from paltry:


  • 2000: First Place, Spartan Invitational — Michigan State University; East Lansing, Michigan
  • 2000: First Place, District 8 Marching Band Competition — Jackson/Parma Western High School; Parma, Michigan
  • 2001: Second Place Soloist, District 8 Solo & Ensemble — variable Michigan locations
  • 2001: Straight 1s, District 8 Band Festival — variable Michigan locations


  • 2001: First Place, Spartan Invitational4
  • 2001: First Place, D8 MBC
  • 2002: Second Place Soloist, District 8 Solo & Ensemble — variable Michigan locations
  • 2002: Straight 1s, D8 BF
  • 2002: Straight 1s, National Adjudicators’ Invitational — Virginia Beach, Virginia


  • 2002: First Place, D8 MBC
  • 2003: Straight 1s, D8 BF


  • 2003: First Place, D8 MBC
  • 2004: Straight 1s, D8 BF
  • 2004: Straight 1s, Dixie Classic — Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Wow, I feel like I just told you I had a Maserati in high school and am yawning over it. O.o

But really, it wasn’t all me. I take no credit for any of it. It was all of us together. If it wasn’t for one of the best band directors in the state and a fantastic family (and O, what a family it was!), the Charlotte High School Bands would have been no where near all those high scores–with or without me.


1 I adjusted this in 2018 because I remembered I played Solo & Ensemble the first two years of high school, too. I don’t know why I did it my freshman year, but I’m sure my sophomore year was part of the “make Lindsey look like a good candidate for drum major” campaign. (It’s also possible that it was one solo in junior high and two in high school–I can’t remember.)

2 I coined the terms “Pumpkin” (named for their horrible orange/black-trimmed mock military jackets) and “Blackberry” (named for our black sweaters with an embroidered band logo) when I was in seventh grade. That’s the only thing I ever suggested that stuck–even after I moved on to high school, I heard people using the term Pumpkins and Blackberries!

3 The Lansing Lugnuts are my local minor league team, while the Detroit Tigers are–of course–Michigan’s MLB team.

4 The Spartan Invitational was discontinued after my sophomore year because Michigan State University opted to remove the astroturf and replace it with sod.

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