Wednesday, April 9, 2014

H is for Homer Smith [A-Z Blog Challenge]

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Homer Smith
Mr. Homer Smith
I joined my county's community band in the fall of 2012.  The first time I attended practice, I got the pleasant surprise of being greeted by my high school band director, Homer Smith.  I hadn't seen him since I graduated from Jacksonville High School more than 20 years ago (has it been THAT long?  Have mercy!). His presence made me smile, but it also made me remember...
I started taking percussion lessons in 10th grade (I was 15).  I had no idea what I was getting myself into, and neither did Mr. Smith.  I was afraid he would be like many of my other teachers who had used my appearance and obvious vision difficulties as a means to embarrass me.  Other than enlarging copies of my music, no further mention was made.  I never heard the words you can't do that in his class, nor later on the marching field.   I'm sure that my first attempts at drumming made Mr. Smith question his career choice and I'm probably the reason his hair greyed so early, but his patient instruction and constant encouragement made me hungry to learn more and more about music.
My first marching season
I won't go into deep details about the initial difficulties I had my first marching season, but I will say that Mr. Smith could have easily put me in a quiet little corner and never allowed me to march at all, but he didn't.  You see, as far as we've been able to figure, I am the first female to every march snare drum at our high school.  Let's just say the alpha males didn't relish the thought of a girl being in "their" drumline.  Even now, playing snare seems to be a "dudes only" club in most high schools and colleges.  Fortunately, my high school alma mater isn't one of them.
Playing in the Community Band
In recovery, as well as in certain types of therapy/counseling, behavior redirection is a technique used for behavior modification.   One redirects a negative behavior by substituting it with a positive one.  Until I started drumming, I had no outlet for creativity--nothing I could pour myself into.  Even though I had made a decision for Christ a year earlier, I was still very bitter and full of anger.  Playing drums was very therapeutic for me.  Without knowing it, Mr. Smith's investment in me kept me in school until graduation.  He also gave me something to live for and look forward to.  What do I mean?  No matter how the kids treated me, no matter what was going on with me at home, no matter whether the other teachers wanted me around or not, last period was where I could strap on my drum and bang out all my frustrations and stresses of the day--turning a negative into a positive.  Plus, Friday always came.  For two football seasons, I may have been a freak, a nerd, and Shamu the Killer Whale during the week, but on Friday nights, I was one of the cool kids on the field and no one could take it away from me.  And you know what?  Because of the community band, THEY STILL CAN'T.  Thanks, Mr. Smith for being a hero!

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