Wednesday, December 22, 2010


There were few freshmen seemingly capable of handling band camp, and Emily Ayer was one of them.

Emily Ayer, dedicated flutist and avid supporter of the Ledyard Music Department, would surely be able to handle band camp. She had done so well in the middle school band. She paid attention in band like she paid attention to everything else in life. She was diligent and earnest. She had perfect posture. She held her flute up with the same confident poise she displayed in everything she did everyday.

Emily Ayer had poise, and people with poise can handle band camp.

On top of all that Emily had the last name synonomous with success in band camp and beyond. She was an Ayer, and Ayers do very well in band camp.

Her older sister Kate was a drum majorette- her sister! Her sister not only told the clueless freshmen what to do; she told the sophomores, the juniors and her fellow seniors what to do!

Yes, any Ayer would do well in any music program, and they would do particularly well in band camp.

While the rest of us would struggle to keep a straight face while we watched one another screw up every single marching corps command, an Ayer would surely do everything asked and more.
While the rest of us arrived late proudly carrying cold Dunkin Donuts iced lattes and get reamed out for it, we were sure Emily Ayer would do just fine.

And Emily Ayer did just fine most of the time. Emily had everything down pat. She put it in all the effort necessary to learn all band formations and flute parts in a timely manner. She arrived on time. Compared to Dan and Chris, Emily was on her game.

There was just one problem. Emily never put her feet on the floor.

Emily Ayer was new to band camp, and she did everything right except put her feet on the floor.

The rules governing a high school band are pretty straightforward. One must arrive on time with their instrument (Dan broke this rule). One should not eat in class (Katie broke this rule). One should wear nice clothes and look presentable for concerts (Chris broke this rule). One should never talk when the conductor is discussing something with members of another section (almost everyone broke this rule). Emily Ayer did not break any of these rules.

However, one should also always keep two feet firmly planted on the floor. Emily Ayer often had only one foot on the floor and the other crossed over her leg. The band teacher would notice this minor transgression every single time his baton was raised and the whole band was waiting for the signal to begin playing. Everyone was silent, and everyone was paying close attention to whatever the teacher was about to say.

Baton raised, he would simply say, "Feet on the floor, Emily Ayer." It was a command meant for one but heard by all.

We heard it all year, too. It didn't end with band camp.

"Feet on the floor, Emily Ayer."

"Feet on the floor, Emily Ayer."

"Both feet on the floor, please, Emily Ayer."

An Ayer was disrupting the band's zen. She was bad karma. She should shape up or give up.

Emily had too much poise to "give up," but she did leave the band before our sophomore year began. She went on to do great things in Ledyard's concert choir, and this proves our parents right about one thing. It turns out you do have to do some searching before you find an activity that firmly plants your feet.

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