Left! Right! Left Right Left!

July 24, 2023

Usually this is all about real estate, but not today.

Everyone who watched the Coronation King Charles and Queen Camilla this weekend has a favorite moment.  Mine? That amazing parade where the new king and queen were carried in a gold coach back to the palace. And the stars of that show? They were the musicians in the marching bands that escorted the new royals home.

In high School in Topeka, Kansas, I was lucky enough to be the piccolo player in one of the best high school marching bands in the country. Whether it was half time at a Friday night football game or marching down Kansas Avenue in some festive parade, it was all about staying perfectly in step while, at the same time creating complex formations in countless shapes, keeping our lines and rows completely straight, playing the right notes, staying in tune, and sounding musical! It makes the kind of multi-tasking that it takes to sell a house pretty ordinary.

So as I sat in front of my TV set on Saturday morning, I perked up when the cameras turned to the military getting ready for the big parade. But this wasn’t like any ordinary parade. They did everything we did in Kansas with some huge differences.

First, it was raining. I’d marched in very cold weather, but never in the rain. In my world, rain was an excuse to cancel or delay the parade. Musical instruments, especially woodwinds, do not like to get wet. Nor do the people playing them!

Second, some of the bands were on horseback! My jaw dropped as I saw a shot of guys on horses they may not have known all that well, holding horns (including a few tubas) and reeds, all of which took at least two hands to hold up. Um, that means they were riding with no hands to hold onto reins or the saddle. And the ride couldn’t have been all that smooth, with the horses bobbing up and down a bit. Then there were all of the conditions that might spook a horse, like zillions of people, noise and the possibility of a big old thunder clap.

Third, all of the bands along the parade route were playing the same marches and the same tempos at the same time. How’d they do that?

Toward the point where the carriage was about to arrive at Buckingham Palace, they played a march that had a piccolo obligato, performed to perfection, that rose over the the sounds of the parade and the people along the route. Talk about lump in my throat!

What these men and women did was totally amazing, and I look back and thank my old high school band director for giving us the amazing training to be able to fully appreciate the complexity and beauty of the choreography they pulled off – and the skill it took to do it.

So next week, it will be back to real estate. I promise!