The Perfect Size


I used to teach a High School Marching Band. It was a way of life. About this time each summer I would be preparing for Rookie Drills, in which I got to work with the incoming new members and teach them to march. It was my favorite kind of teaching, helping intimidated not-quite-ninth-graders gain confidence and some skill in the fundamentals.

One of the things young rookies would learn was the standard step size. You see, a marching band field has “yard lines” painted on it every five yards. It was an arbitrary pattern, left over I think from when marching band fields used to be used primarily for some other activity. Most music has beat patterns that are grouped into four beats (i.e. 4/4 time). So to allow a marching band to march straight down the field, hitting the yard lines at times that made sense, the band marches with “8 to 5” step size, meaning that every eight steps they go five yards.

No self-respecting marching band ever marches this way any more, but no matter. It’s a standard, much like a “foot” was originally the length of a person’s foot, or a “decibel” is the volume of one of the bells of the famous windchime designer Ferdinand Deci*.

To fit eight steps into 5 yards, it turns out that each step must be exactly 22.5 inches. Therefore I helped the new marchers to learn the standard “twenty-two-and-a-half-inch” step.

So you can imagine my pride, at their recent doctor appointment, upon hearing that both of my newest children are exactly 22.5 inches long. There’s something very fitting about that at this time of year.

At the appointment I also learned that Kennedy weighs some amount of pounds, two ounces, while Shepard weighs the same amount of pounds, eleven ounces. So Shepard weighs more. This is the kind of boiled-down-to-basics summary you get when Dad is in charge. Although it really seemed to annoy Grandma Labuta that I couldn’t remember the actual number of pounds**.

Anyway, I have too many responsibilities nowadays to teach marching band, but I like to think that the twins could participate if necessary, even if their contribution at this point was to lay in the grass as a visual aid.

* I totally made up the part about the bells.
** I should have made up some number of pounds.

2 thoughts on “The Perfect Size

  1. Anonymous

    Hi Scott,
    I took the link to HHS and it really creaped me out. It still looks like a prison and the website content is very bleak. No photos of anything (thats probably some privacy policy). Very sad. It doesn’t look like anyone could of ever had fun there not to mention march in a band. Emily

  2. Scott Orwig

    Yeah, it always has looked imposing. The new additions to the building didn’t change that. I actually do have a lot of very warm memories of HHS both as student and teacher, but what’s weird for me is that settings of most of those memories don’t exist anymore. The entire music wing of the building was gutted and rebuilt. The auditorium is almost exactly the same, but the band room, practice rooms, and offices I practically lived in are gone.

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