This weekend I went to my college’s homecoming football game. I organized the first annual reunion for alumni of the marching band. Before you judge, the marching band at my college is really, really cool. Honestly.
About one hundred alumni turned out. One, who had been the conductor of the band in the 1960s, conducted the current band as they played our Alma Mater. As I watched him rehearse with the band I knew I was witnessing an important emotional moment. It might have been the sweeping gestures he used to conduct, which are rarely used today, or what he said when explained how he thought the music should flow.
The difference at the performance was huge. I had only heard it performed as a dirge. The alumnus added variations in the tempo and the volume that followed the words of the song. He made it sound grander and like a sentimental song from the early part of the 20th century that reflects on youth and love for your college.
As I watched, the writer in me struggled to capture the emotion behind what I was seeing. I knew that the beauty of this moment was in the love for the music that the conductor and the band were feeling. And I knew I needed to act fast, this would probably only happen twice – first at the rehearsal before the game and then the actual game itself.
On my way home I reflected on what I had just done. Authors need to be able to separate the extraordinary from the day-to-day and explain it in a way that reaches people deeply… just like that music reached me.