Friday, September 4, 2009

---> The BIG shock

Some might say that moving into a new country, the differences and strangeness of everything comes as a huge shock. It's true. Adjusting to a new culture is a strange process, when strange little things can throw you off or make you incredibly homesick. I went through that in my first few months here, but little did I know there was a bigger shock to come. As an exchange student,  I knew the best thing to do would be to stand talk, keep my chin up, keep on walking and toot the flute. It was the moment I realised 'Banda' didn't mean concert band, but marching band.

The first clue I got about the band I had joined at my school would be different was when the director asked us to memorise music. The other students had been in the band for longer than I had, so alread had the music down pat (I didn't realise they played the same tune each year at first, I thought, being in a music high school, that they were talented musicions and learnt 4 songs in a week, while I was struggling to learn 4 bars in a week). 

The first shock came when I realised the reason we had been asked to learn the music off by heart. At 5pm one Friday afternoon, during my first few months here, when to my hope and joy we seemed to be packing up early . . . to my dismay, everyone was simply moving outside with their instruments. Why? Another thing I haven't done before - play music off by heart on the flute while marching in the first line of a marching band. It's not as easy as it sounds, and my first time I was awful at it. Firstly marching in time. That's not too hard, but when it is your first time and you are in the first row and don't know the director's hand signals, it gets messy. Secondly, marching in time AND playing an instrument, supposedly with music you know by memory. Concentrating on marching is one thing, and concentrating on playing music off by heart is another thing, and they must use different sides of the brain or something because I almost walked into about 3 poles. (While trying not to bump poor Carolina with the end of my flute). Then there's the marching well, concentrating on the music and trying to keep your flute held high. It all sounds pretty complicated, and as I now know, some things are a lot easier said than done.

However, we have not come to the BIG shock. What we were practicing for in my first few months was the 21st of May, a date of a naval battle in Iquique, and all of the schools' marching bands play on that morning. However, due to the strike of the teachers in the public schools, my school did not play - and I thought that was the end of marching band - back to the familiar playing the flute sitting down stage.

Ha. Last week at Band practice, guess what we did - Marching band again! 

This was for the school anniversary, so on Sunday morning we had to be at school in uniform, ready to march from the school to the town plaza to celebrate the anniversary.

Marching Along

We marching on one side of a two lane road at one stage, and cars still came along alongside us! That's one of the things different about here, traffic isn't as considerate. (I won't scare my family reading this by telling them that I have lost count of the times I have nearly been run over here). Stray dogs aren't very considerate either, but it's lucky they poop on the footpaths and we marched on the road. But one did join the parade. It wasn't just the marching band marching either, the whole school (or those that could get themselves up on Sunday morning and weren't in the choirs or dancing Cueca in places around town) had to march. So we waited for a while by the mall, and my friend Barbara took some photos.

Waiting . . .

The marching band it very traditional, and there are certain 'passes' we have to do, one of them it the Retreat. I accidently stood on the back of someone's shoe when I was coming forward. But the retreat is when all the classes come through and they say the name of the class, as I understood.

Then, before we could go home, we were given cartons of juice, and started to set up chairs for the concert in the plaza. We played a few songs, then packed up and were given free empanadas and more juice - it was a hot day! One of the interesting things my host parents told me is that in the times of Augusto Pinochet, every single Sunday there had to be a parade in the plaza, because Pinochet (militarist dictator of Chile about 30 years ago) liked military things.

The concert
In other news, another week has passed, I have been out a few times with the other exchange students, and now know the best place to eat completos! This is fure sure the best half of the exchange. I'm having the time of my life here.

1 comment:

Alexandra said...

That's awesome! I miss marching band, even though I suck at it! hahahaha! :)