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Brian Veenstra

McLaughlin
Multimedia Writing and Rhetoric
12 September 2014
Audio Narrative Script
The Band of the Fighting Irish. The worlds oldest university band in continuous existence.
Every time you hear the Notre Dame Victory March, its them. Ever since picking up my first pair of
drumsticks, I had dreamed of being a part of them. And when the time finally came to audition,
everyone from my family to my friends to my coworkers knew about it. This audition process was a very
turbulent and memorable time, but who couldve known that this would not only be a test of my
musicianship, but also my screen literacy?
June 11th, 2014. A large envelope arrives addressed to me from the Notre Dame band.
Quivering, fumbling fingers spill the contents onto the kitchen floor. No music falls out. Only a schedule
and info sheet. There must be some sort of mistake, right? Wrong. The email response that I received to
my question contains a link. A link that takes me to the ND Drumline website. A website filled with PDFs,
MP3s, and Youtube links. I was drenched in virtual resources, and now was the time to sink or swim.
My job sounded easy: prepare. And prepare I did. My laptop screen was my passport to a world
of Victory Marches, midnight drummer circles, and cadences. But there was always doubt. The very first
thing on that drumline website was not a welcome message, it was a virtual countdown timer. Days,
hours, minutes, seconds, and milliseconds until Band Camp. The first time I saw it, I was relieved by how
much time I seemed to have, but the story of my summer continued to be how quickly that time ticked
away as I returned to practice, again and again.
August 20, 2014, 8:30 a.m. eastern: The countdown hits zero. I wasnt watching, however,
because I had to be up and in the band building 15 minutes early for warmups. What followed was a
blur of marching, music, facings, posture, and mostly yelling. Every time you turned, you yelled. So much
as fidget or look away in the position of attention, and youd be yelled at. Back at home, if the
recordings of the music were too loud, I could simply turn down the volume. About 15 minutes into
actual band camp, I was wishing I could do that to people. This would not be the only discrepancy
between reality and my virtual preparation. There was music that they purposefully withheld so we
couldnt have prepared it, or the process of switching us all around between instruments during songs. I
was okay, but I also knew that there were 22 auditionees for only 10 spots, and being okay wasnt
good enough. I began to realize not only that I wasnt as ready as I might have thought, but that maybe I
wasnt cut out for this.
After a long and exhausting first day, I went back to my lonely, futon-less dorm room. I opened
my laptop, and went back to the drumline website just like I had been doing all summer to prepare.
Everything was the same, except it all felt different. Back in the summer, those videos and recordings
made me feel like I had a shot at this. But by that first night I knew that this was something I never
couldve truly been prepared for. The materials were only part of it: the work ethic, the time
commitment, the ruthless precision, the unwavering quest for perfection, the passion for yelling were
the others, and they were something you cant really know are there until you try. My screen had let me
down, or I had let it down, or some combination of the two. I looked at the now-frozen countdown
timer, like I had so many times before: A bunch of zeros, I thought, just like me.

I tried my hardest for the rest of the two days left for tryouts, but I knew in my heart that my
virtual experience of the drumline had not turned into reality. The day the drumline rosters were
posted, I had already gone through a change of heart. Part of me still wanted to make the drumline,
because I had spent my whole summer preparing for it, but now there was a new part of me that didnt.
I had realized in my time at Band Camp that this was not my high school marching band, this was a new
kind of professionalism and commitment to marching band that I had never had to deal with before. It
was impressive, absolutely, and precise, too, but it wasnt really for me.
The last thing they told us as tryouts ended was that we had all done a great job. And you know
what? I did do a great job. Did I make the drumline? Well, no. Will I try out next year? Well, no. As reality
blew away all of the expectations I got from the online preparation, I learned a lot about myself, and
about the dangers of anticipation. The virtual world of the ND drumline is very different from the real
one, but I dont blame my laptop. I dont blame anyone, not even myself, because I learned a lot of
valuable lessons from this seemingly fruitless endeavor. I still have a great respect for the Notre Dame
Marching Band, although Ill never be in it, and through it all, I still have a great fondness for that Victory
March.

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