Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Handshake

In American society the handshake is a form of greeting.

It is also a symbol of agreement.

It is also a way to seal the deal or give someone your word.


As a young child I was taught how to shake hands properly with others.

As a young adult I was taught to offer a firm handshake - not a "limp fish" sort of handshake.

As a teacher I have done my part to teach my students about the handshake with many repetitions of the rhyme "Quaker, Quaker, how art thee? Very well, I thank thee!" or Disney's "How d'you do and shake hands."

For you see, in their world it seems to be diminishing in practice.

Nowadays it is the High 5 ...

Or more recently, the fist bump.


In the musical world the handshake is most obvious at a symphony concert when the maestro ("conductor") enters the stage he/she shakes the hand of the concert master (1st violin).

Or the maestro might welcome a soloist to the stage with a handshake and then also congratulate them on a fine performance after they've played.

As a trombonist I have always sat at the back of a large ensemble.

Alas, in my years as a performing artist I have never received the welcoming or congratulatory handshake due to the location of my placement in a group.

That is until 2015!!!!


This past weekend I participated in a reunion of my home town, high school band.

The man who was my band director during my years in high school was going to be directing the ensemble.

That cinched my reason for going.

Band seating charts vary by ensemble and director.

Though on the back row (as always) I was privileged to sit on the outer front edge of the group next to an awesome line-up of trombones.

Anyway, back to why this has anything to do with the handshake.

When my band director finished directing a piece he would walk to my side of the band and raising his arm acknowledging the band's performance.

After conducting "Old Scottish Melody" (Auld Lang Syne) he walked to my side of the band like he had been.

THEN he turned towards me, put his hand out to me and said "Great job!"

I about melted on the spot!

Ever the professional (or at least trying to do what is right) I shook hands and said something.  I don't really remember what.

It was just a handshake, but you have no idea how much that handshake meant to me.

That I was the recipient of the handshake was one thing.  I was proud to be the alumni band's representative at that moment.

That it was from a director I so admire and respect was the main thing.  This was HUGE.

And, if any of my alumni reunion band mates happen to be reading this: I had an awesome time getting to connect musically once again with each of you. I'm so glad you were a part of the performance.

I sit, I play, and I realize: THIS is why I am in band!

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