It would have been kinder if my death had come quickly. But as cruel and unusual deaths go, mine was dragged out for maximum pain, over the entire 50 minutes of today's third period.
The first stab was delivered by a 5th grade trumpeter, who informed me that there had been too much homework over spring break, from which we just returned this week, to practice. Right, I replied. Practicing was part of that homework. A pause, then blank stares. And I died a little bit.
In a futile attempt to not give up sweet life so easily, I gave (yet another) rather stern lecture about the importance of practice. I brought home my point by sharing the anecdote of the time Jo Jones threw a cymbal at Bird for daring to play so badly on a jam session. As the band sat in awed silence at the thought of physical violence as a repercussion of a poor performance, hopefully remembering that our concert is now three weeks away, I felt a premature victory. Then a 6th grade tenor sax player asked, Who is Charlie Parker? And I died a little more.
From here on it was the proverbial snowball set in motion down the hill, gathering speed and size, its only goal to take me out Indian Jones style:
My 6th grade 2nd chair electric guitar player forgot her music, and I died.
My 6th grade bass player forgot his bass, and I died again.
The D string on my 1st chair electric guitar player's guitar snapped when I foolishly tried to tune his permanently screwed down strings. He of course, has the main riff of the song, and for the rest of the class he played it an almost half step flat, allowing me to die even more.
My two tenor players still don't remember how to finger F# (IT IS APRIL OF THEIR SECOND YEAR OF PLAYING!!!!) and as I leaned over to reprimand their laziness, I realized the reason they were not making eye contact with me was not because they were ashamed, but because the shirt I wore was just a little too low cut for those 5th and 6th graders! And I died yet again.
After too many four bar isolations, with too many reminders of fingerings, explanations of where 2 is and how many beats a quarter note rest get, repeated demonstrations of steady eighths on the drum set (AGAIN!) and last ditch efforts of Just listen to how I sing it and copy that, we tried one final run through...
The opening riff was in a new, indistinguishable key, there was a noticeable lack of bass, the drummer's eighth notes hailed from some undiscovered dimension like Earth 527, the tenors honked, the trumpets strained, the pianists' hands were moving but I heard nothing over the noise that was akin to a Reich phase, and as we reached measure 36 (that's right folks, we've been working on this for over 2 months now and we can only get to measure 36), I took an invisible knife, stabbed myself in the heart, and collapsed onto the dirty auditorium stage floor... and died my final death.
Memorial services will be announced later this week. Condolences can be made in the form of chocolate, foot massages, and tequila shots.
POST SCRIPT: Classroom violence is no joking matter, and is all too real. I use the above expression of being killed by the music because that was truly my emotional reaction to today's rehearsal. I felt like I had been stabbed in the heart. I mean no disrespect to teachers and students who deal with real violence at schools, a place which should be a safe haven meant to foster growth and education, not fear and duress.