Ten Minutes

A chill bites uncovered faces and hands throughout the stadium. The lights are bright enough to blot out the stars and even the moon that shines above. Their glare is concentrated upon the green-and-brown mottled field, though some escapes upwards. Viewed from outside, the colossal building's top must surely glow. The crowd is expectant, waiting, everyone huddled inside large, puffy sweatshirts, thick, dark jeans, striped wool scarves, and perhaps that extra pair of socks to keep out the autumn chill. Most are uncomfortable, having been sitting on the cold, hard, and unforgiving stadium seats for some time now. The more frequent and experienced spectators have brought blankets and stadium seats along with them, and they smile smugly to themselves. Others clutch hot chocolate or coffee and sip the dark liquid within cheap paper cups in a vain attempt to warm themselves with the rising steam. The drinks' smell is overridden by the smell of the sharp night air. Here and there, zealous fans clutch signs that declaim in large and unavoidable letters that their school is " # 1!" The large sports scoreboard lies dormant at one end of the stadium—none of the people are here for football.

Now, the loudspeaker crackles to life, and the announcer cries out the name of the next school. They begin to march proudly onto the field in antique-looking yet vividly colored uniforms, metal instruments shining and winking confidently in the light, while the plumes set atop the helmets shiver ever so slightly. Parents wearing school jackets run beside carts carrying gongs and timpanis, keyboards and chimes. The drum majors march out in front. Within two minutes, everything is set up—the musicians set out on the field in block formation, the pit standing ready with their immobile instruments as they look up to the drum majors atop their podium. The pit parents have vanished.

The drum major atop the center and tallest podium salutes the crowd formally and precisely, then turns to face the band once more. Suddenly, the drum majors' hands move simultaneously. At first, nothing seems to happen, but then field springs to life with two hundred uniformed musicians moving in sync with one another. Sound builds gradually, then bursts in a crescendo that echoes all over the stadium and fills it with the bright, metallic sound of trumpets rising over clarinets, saxophones, and flutes anchored solidly by tubas and low brass. Battery percussion begins their tattoo of continuous, sharp sound embellished by marimbas and timpanis in the pit, as the colorgaurd adds visual impact with swirling flags impossible to miss. Red uniforms move backwards and forwards, left and right all in unison, and suddenly a snake-like spiral shape springs into relief. The crowd claps, whistles and cheers, but their sound cannot break or even rise above the glorious sound made by the band. When you close your eyes, you are able to feel the sound, the pounding, vibrating drums and penetrating high brass; you are able to taste it too—sharp yet smooth, and full of invincible power. Within ten breathtaking minutes, the show is over, and the inhabitants of the stands find their palms tingling from clapping so much, their throats scratchy and hoarse. The loudspeaker again comes alive and the announcer restates the name of the band once more as they exit the stadium, flanked by parents, filled with triumph and pride. The audience relaxes and prepares themselves for the next overpowering ten minutes.