B-Flat: Memories of joining the Clown Band

March 14, 2012


Bruce Miller


mcp blogger


It is still a vivid memory to me, the first time that I heard the Scottville Clown Band. Hereafter known as SCB.  I was walking in town across from city hall and the SCB was practicing up stairs in the city hall building.  They were playing “Basin Street Blues” and it was incredible.


What a pleasant surprise to hear this sound wafting through the night air. It was many years later when I approached them to inquire about membership.  It was easy then compared to today.  Just show up for a practice and make it through the night.  First, I had to buy a clarinet and then go to a practice.  They were then practicing in the Optimist hall.  There was another recent incentive to join the band.  The use of a bus to ride to parades and such.  The first time that I stepped off with the SCB was the Memorial Day parade in Mackinaw City.  Our family all went and stayed in the motel right by the bridge. Beside playing, there was a pool to enjoy and a “hospitality suite” put on by the band.


The first time out was so exhilarating, the camaraderie among the members so wonderful, and a myriad of benefits and inducements were such that I said to myself, “I can do this”.  One of the joys of playing are the things we do not have to do.


Imagine playing in a parade and having to wonder, am I in step? Is my hat on straight? Am I playing in tune? And so many other things that typical bands must contend with. There is this great lack of inhibitions in the SCB that makes playing a thing of pure joy.  Speaking of joy, you should see the expressions of the people along the street.  It is good to know that we are helping to bring cheer to so many, especially in these troubled times.  It is so amazing to me when I meet people, that they recognize me from the band. 


As with anything else, there are some down sides. One is missing so many who one had become so close to over the years.  Another is missing events that one would dearly enjoy attending. Since it is a volunteer organization, attendance is not mandatory.  Since we have the freedom to either play or not, it is easy to miss an event.  This reminds me that there is always a good balance of players.  Well you might wonder why it is that there are not some times when 40 trumpets show up and 1 trombone or  1 trumpet and 25 saxophones or any other strange mixture of instrumentation.  It doesn’t happen.  When I first joined the band, I was told that “it never rains on the SCB”.  It never has in my memory.  Once, it started to rain right after the parade, but that doesn’t count.


My hope is that we will continue to be a joyful addition to events and play together in harmony.


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