Friday, September 12, 2008

Ode to Campus Joy

When I wander around a university campus, I am reminded of how great it is to work in an academic environment. Despite the occasional monstrosity of a building (typically the architecture department, for some strange reason), the buildings are beautiful and there are car-free zones that are excellent for strolling.

On a nice day, people are out and about doing classic campus activities. I assume they are doing these by choice and are not paid by the university to ensure that there is always someone playing frisbee on a lawn somewhere or sitting reading under a tree.

I like the crazy people who shout about Satan or sea mammals (though I am not so fond of the people with the pictures of fetuses), and the musicians on the sidewalks, even if most of them seem to be tortured by deep and sad emotions, or at least profound weariness at singing bad songs from my generation's high school and college days.

Regular readers already know how I feel about the squirrels.

BUT, and there is a BUT: I hate the marching band. I am sorry, but I really do. I do not hate the individual musicians as people of course, and I am glad that there are students who want to spend their extracurricular time playing the tuba rather than violent video games that degrade women and/or extraterrestrials, but why do they need to practice where anyone can hear them?

Perhaps those who choose to attend sporting events enjoy the sights and sounds of the marching band performing on game day, but would anyone choose to work in an office in the vicinity of a practicing marching band? My office is not near the athletic facilities. What evil person decided "Hey, let's have the tuba, drum, and trombone players practice over there between those academic buildings. It is nice and quiet there."?

This week was particularly trying because the tubas were practicing some songs that should never be attempted by a marching band. I wonder if the university would buy me some excellent noise-canceling headphones and/or pay for therapy so that I can work through my hostility issues related to marching bands.

I doubt if I could get these expenses past the accountants, who have now decided that we have to justify every single expense we make or even think about making, including those that are already described in gory detail in the budget justification of the grant. I have been attempting to get away with increasingly absurd secondary justifications*, with only partial success. Perhaps the accountants have been driven mad by the many hours that people in our building must listen to tubas practicing songs from "The Sound of Music".


* secondary justification = a justification of something that has already been sufficiently justified

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

An anti-tubite! How sad. The tuba is a wonderful musical instrument, and provides the harmonic foundation for the entire ensemble, be it an orchestra or marching band.

And tuba players are just some of the neatest people you will ever meet. Consider inviting the section out for a beer sometime...you won't be disappointed!

Female Science Professor said...

I know some tuba players. Tuba players are my friends.. until they practice for hours behind my building.

Anonymous said...

I hate listening to marching bands practice while I'm trying to work, too. Add to that the military science students practicing their drills in the quad outside my window. I get tired of all the yelling.

My worst experience with marching bands was while I was taking the SAT early on a Saturday morning in my midwestern hometown (home of a large state R1 institution renowned for its football team). The band marched right by the auditorium where we were taking the exam, and interrupted the exam for 10-15 minutes. I still think I should have about 50 more points added to my verbal score for that interruption.

sandy shoes said...

Reading this post, I was all "what's the big deal?" until you got to "The Sound of Music."

FSP, you have my heartfelt sympathy. Truly.

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

Could be worse - one of my neighbours in Glasgow played the bagpipes. Now, I love the bagpipes - if outside and played well. Inside, and sounding like cat torture, not so much.

aceon said...

Oh ho - you think one bad bagpipe is a trial, imagine a band of bagpipers in training. Yes, I had "bagpipe camp" outside my windows. At least they weren't playing anything from the sound of music!

The Classy Chemist said...

Perhaps you could kindly suggest that they go practice on the roofs of parking garages...that's what they do here (top 10 football program, or so I'm told)

Lisa said...

My apartment is located near the marching band and drum corps practice fields. Just behind them is a fairly busy hospital.

Mrs. Smith said...

The Sound of Music? Played by a marching band? Oh dear.

Brian said...

No marching band on our campus. But the grounds crew spends a LOT of time outside my window with power blowers.

Oh, and someone once told me to stop playing volleyball on the lawn. It might lead to frizbee (their spelling, or some activity I don't know about). Who knew, volleyball is a gateway activity?

Alex said...

Until you've lived in an apartment near the field where the university houses an annual cheerleading camp you have no right to complain.

To give you an idea how awful it was: We were a mile from the camp and we STILL heard the screeching.

Eugenie said...

I live by one of the busiest roads in town and for some god forsaken reason trucks like to gear down right in front of my house- It was so loud one time I jumped to my feet out of bed at 3AM. I could have sworn i thought a plane was trying to land on my house...

Ms.PhD said...

I work at a very un-campus campus. We never hear anything remotely interesting except the annual cheerleader training, which I find kind of cute as audio, even while it's sometimes degrading to see.

I'd take tubas over office-park blah any day.

And I like the Sound of Music.

Unbalanced Reaction said...

Hahaha... none of those problems here at TempCollege. At LargeU, however, the biggest problem I had was not with the band's practice locations but their tendency to jaywalk (with instruments in tow, of course) in the bus lanes...30 tuba players keeping my bus from taking me home, not good.


P.S. Loved/love your book.

Seamonkey said...

How interesting..one of my favorite sounds here on campus is the marching band. I think the difference is that it filters in to my office windows from afar...not up close and personal.

Yvette said...

If it makes you feel better, they decided to build the newer dorms surrounding the football field. Nice idea in theory, but in practice it means there is marching band practice there at 9am on Saturday game days.

I'd find the image of waking up the majority of the undergraduate population at 9am a comical one if I weren't dead serious about it.

Aspiring FSP said...

At my LargeU alma mater, the marching band used to practice in the busiest bike lane/campus road they could find and then get mad if you biked/walked through their formation (even if they were just chatting and it was a public space anyway!)

Katie said...

I went to a boarding school for high school that had a bagpipe marching band. They used to practice early in the morning, before school started, right next to the boarding house. A whole school campus, and they chose the place closest to the people trying to sleep. It may turn out to be a marching band trait. :-)