Favorite Teachers Department
When I was in high school marching band (no, I never went to band camp, but I did play flute), we were practicing marching on the football field and it was a brutally hot September. I remember I was wearing my favorite jeans--tight with red stitching and a cute red leather western belt and red t-shirt. This was 9th grade. The year was 1980. Fashion - it's more important than you might think...
We marched military style, which was a great point of pride with us - movements had to be extremely crisp and clean, every turn done with mathematic precision so you didn't end up getting your chocolate in someone else's peanut butter. Or vice versa. All our competitors had switched to the easier, more gimmicky corps style, which had flags, rifle twirling, mostly brass instruments and cheese, glorious cheese! Pa-Tooey. Anyway, we were the best, and we were the best while doing the absolute hardest style. Oh, I'm sounding nerdy, aren't I?
Anyway, that fateful day the band director yelled "Forward: 1, 2, 3---BAND! HALT!" It's funny that I heard him give the order to halt even though everything was black, but I didn't know why. I had fallen out and was on the ground, passed out from the heat. Next thing I knew, I was laying on my back on the football field, looking up, some wiseass was humming "taps" in the background(funny!), and Steve Pike, the jr hi band director, was unbuckling my belt. Ew. I mean, he was ANCIENT, like, 30, and this was slightly at odds with my imaginings of being undressed by a male, at that point, and far too public for my taste. Fortunately, no mouth-to-mouth was required.
Mr. Pike sent someone to the field house for ice, and I spent a really dull remainder of the practice sitting with a pack of ice on the back of my neck. I was fine, really!
Anyway, Mr. Pike is the guy in the middle of the picture, below, and the lady sitting in front of him is Carole King, songwriter extraordinaire. Mr. Pike is an inspiring Mr. Holland-type music teacher. He now works with inner-city jr. high kids in the Los Angeles area, and I've no doubt he's utterly changed and even saved some lives by giving these children a creative outlet and a proper introduction to various forms of music. He was one of the finest music professionals I've ever met, including all in the professional sphere I've dealt with in my pursuit of an operatic career.
Mr. Pike is one of those rare people with the technical skill of the finest musicians in the world, yet who sublimate their wish to perform to their wish to introduce others to the buoyant properties of making music. That is why I can remember him fondly, even though he did embarrass the crap out of me by unbuckling my belt in front of absolutely everyone.