Wow! My first band concert! I buttoned the jacket of my blue uniform, then checked myself out in the mirror. Cool! Except that my red tie was still crooked. I yanked it off and tried again. Not good!
Dad’s a whiz at ties. He teases that you can’t be a good missionary until you can tie a proper tie. But he wasn’t home yet, so I zipped downstairs and found Mom in the living room. She did a super job.
I was tucking the tie into my jacket when my sister, Peg, bounced into the room, all decked out in her band uniform. Her tie was perfect, of course!
We’re in the same band. She’s a year older than I am, but we’ve always gotten along just fine—until the new girl, Dina, moved next door, anyway. Dina says she can’t stand her own little brother. I guess it’s catching—I’ve become a little brother for Peg to nag and scold.
She stood there now, looking down her nose at me. “My, my, how grand our little drummer boy looks in his new uniform! Are you all set to pound on your drum?”
“Now, Peg!” Mom chided. “You shouldn’t talk to your brother like that. Besides, a drummer is an important part of the band.” She glanced at her watch. “It’s almost time for the concert. Dad should be here any minute.”
Peg sniffed. “If you call banging on an oversize tin can important.”
“Hey!” I exclaimed. “Without the drum, the band couldn’t … well, it wouldn’t even be a band.”
“Ha! Bam, boom, bang! Who wants to hear that racket? Now, me—the first clarinetist—I carry the tune.”
Just then Dad poked his head in the door. “Everybody ready?”
We piled into the car and headed for the school.
In the auditorium, Mom and Dad settled into a couple of seats down front. Peg and I bustled to our places on the stage. I sat down at my drum and wrapped my fingers around my drumsticks.
They felt good in my hands.
Peg leaned across to Dina who plays second clarinet. Loudly enough for me to hear, she said, “My brother thinks we couldn’t be a band without him whacking away on that stupid drum.” They started to giggle, and I felt my face getting hot.
The band director, Mr. Larson, marched onto the stage and bowed. The audience applauded, then he turned to us and lifted his baton.
The whole auditorium got so quiet that you could have heard a spider walk across the floor. Mr. Larson leaned toward me. “Keep an even rhythm,” he mouthed. “The drumbeat keeps the band together.”
Then he signaled for me to begin my drum roll. My hands shook so that I was afraid the beat would come out ragged, but a crisp rat-a-tat-tat rattled off the drum, and Mr. Larson motioned to the others to join in with their instruments.
Beating time, time, time, I soared on the music, taking the whole band with me.
When it was time for Peg’s clarinet solo, all the other instruments quieted. I barely stroked the drum, keeping time for her. She hit the highest note in her piece and held on to it. Suddenly disaster struck—her clarinet was squeaking! The harder she tried, the more it sounded like a mad goose with laryngitis.
I changed quickly from a soft stroke to a hard beat. Mr. Larson brought in the rest of the band, Peg got control, and we finished the piece. The music died away, leaving me barely tapping the drum … softer … and … softer. When I stopped, the audience clapped like crazy.
The rest of the concert went off without a hitch. As we were all putting away our instruments, I noticed Peg drooped over her clarinet case, just sitting there. She didn’t even look up when Mr. Larson said that she had done a good job.
He patted me on the back, too, but I didn’t have time to soak up the praise. I was worried about Peg. I could tell that she was an inch away from tears.
When Mom and Dad stopped to talk to some friends, Peg and I went on to the car. Peg scrunched down in the seat like she wished that it would swallow her.
“You did great, Peg,” I said, giving her hand a quick pat. “Anybody can have a squeaky reed.”
“My reed was OK. It did fine for the rest of the concert.” She gulped. “I just lost it on that high note. It was a nightmare! I was so glad to hear that drum beat. …”
Peg’s breathing was funny—as if the air was lumpy or something.
Dad and Mom got into the car. “You guys were wonderful!” Mom said.
“Super terrific!” Dad agreed, starting the engine.
“The drummer did fine.” Peg’s voice was shaky. “The clarinetist should have stayed home.”
“Not so!” exclaimed Mom. “Every instrument is important to the band.”
Dad eased the car out of the parking lot and into the street. “That’s right. It takes them all working together to make beautiful music.”
“Sounds like people!” I piped up.
Peg reached over and squeezed my hand. “I have a thing or two to tell Dina about drums and brothers.”
She didn’t say little brother! This called for a celebration. “Anybody for ice cream?”
“Well, sure,” Peg said. “But you know how you always drip ice cream down your tie. And chocolate doesn’t go too well with red.”
“Since you have two ties, maybe you can let me have one if I do.”
“Kindness to brothers only goes so far,” she said.
I whipped my tie off and crammed it into my pocket. “Problem solved,” I said with a grin.
At the ice-cream palace, Peg dug into her strawberry sundae. Halfway to her mouth, a glob slid off her spoon, splotching her red tie.
“How about that?” I teased. “Strawberry doesn’t go much better with red than chocolate does.”
“Anybody can make a mistake,” she said. “Or maybe two.”
We all laughed. It was beautiful music.