Practice Makes Perfect This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   As the fifty of us dressed in our white uniforms stood waiting for the awards to reach our band, we were all thinking back to the hours of hard work and fun spent to get to this point in time. It seemed like just yesterday that we were memorizing the first notes of our show, eating a quick lunch and heading up to the field to start learning the drill under the hot August sun of Band Camp. It was weird to think that all those freezing rehearsals from 6: 00 to 8: 30 three times a week during September were over. The football games we sat through had faded into fond memories, including the water fights during the breaks, having our lives threatened, being called morons as well as "the most dedicated band I've ever had," arriving everywhere fifteen minutes early, and all those hours we spent together. The beach party had come and gone with nothing more than a fond remembrance of windy volleyball and football games, not to mention the endless "Let's Get Psyched" parties. We remembered all those mornings in our second home - the music hall, doing homework we had not finished before yesterday's rehearsal.

When we had arrived at school this morning we felt that energy surrounding people who are confident in their ways. When we reached the huge entrance of Sullivan Stadium we knew that this was it - the show to end all shows. The energy level was about to explode in every member of our little family, from the four year veteran seniors to the rookie freshmen. As the opening note of our show exploded into the unseasonably warm October afternoon, we knew we were at our best. We marched through the drill flawlessly, playing every note to the utmost. When our eleven minute spell in the spotlight was over, we marched out better than we had come on, full of pride that we had done our ultimate best. It would not have mattered at that point what score we received; we were proud to be wearing the colors of Wakefield High School Marching Band. That was all Ms. S. had ever wanted from us: our hearts poured into the music, our souls put into our marching and being proud to be us. She was ecstatic with our performance. That was more than enough.

As all the bands lined up for the full retreat, we stood in our parade formation perfectly still. We laughed to ourselves when we heard one of the members of the other bands say, "How can they stand that still for so long without moving or talking?" Anyone in the

band would have answered "Pride and Discipline," our two favorite words. As the call came for us to move out into our places on the huge field, we marched in with all our best form. When Wakefield was at last called we snapped to attention and stayed there while receiving our perfect five star gold medal State Championship score.

We remained silent while marching back to the bus and forming our familiar huddle around Ms. S. When she said, "Okay, now you can go crazy," we did. Nothing will ever quite compare to the feeling of being greeted at the town line by the police and fire departments and marching down the middle of downtown area on a Sunday night. When they had asked us at the beginning of the season if it was all going to be worth it, we never knew just how "worth it" all those burning, raining, windy, freezing, painful rehearsals would be. When they asked us upon returning home in style we replied, "Worth it? All those hours; all those miles we marched? Yeah, I guess you could say it was worth it." But truly the things we learned about ourselves and others, the friendships we made that will last forever, are what really made it all worthwhile. As the weary but extremely happy group of "just plain kids" marched down that street that balmy night they knew that THEY and they alone had won that championship- - not the wonderful staff who taught them, nor their dedicated parents. The everyday, extraordinary kids had won the title themselves.

The same thing will happen next year, maybe not in Wakefield, maybe not with a police escort, but with another group of kids who will find a sense of purpose when they do what we did. We won what we had been told was the elusive goal everyone reached for, but only one could have. On that day, we matured just a little, became just a little more self confident, and a whole lot more believing in the good old-fashioned saying, "Practice Makes Perfect."n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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