25 Days of Thanks- Day 12

Thankful- The Slapper

It’s not necessarily the most popular musical instrument, however it plays an integral part of one of the Christmas Holiday classics.  You might know it more from this song:

Around 1:07, the orchestra goes completely silent and all of a sudden you hear… WHACK.  The a few seconds later… WHACK.

It’s a split second where the percussionist is in control.  A split second where the conductor, the band, and the audience turns towards you and waits for that… WHACK.

If you’re just a second off, the whole piece is thrown off.  The band can’t wait for you!  You have to be on your game.

So there I am.  High School.  Hair perfectly coiffed but a little blown out from the marching band cymbals the song before.  Any time I crashed the two things together, a gust of wind would toss my hair in all different directions.  Videos of this still play in my house around the holidays.  Thank God my Dad hasn’t figured out YouTube.

Nervous as a son of a gun though.  I remember that our Band Director had a two sets of lights for the band and an additional set of lights just for the percussion area.

Whispers could be heard in our percussion section as the parents would send stares in our direction… “If our son or daughter screw up it’s all because you couldn’t get the darn beat right”

(In reality this didn’t happen.  The parents were always nice and supportive.  This is just my nightmares talking…)

I had two jobs during this song.

One, the sleigh bells.  Easy.  Ring ring ring ring pause ring ring ring.  Bring it down a little…. ring ring ring.

They were cake.

Two, the slapper.

Take a look again at the picture.  The spring on this thing adds an additional challenge.  This isn’t a manual instrument.  You need a physics degree to understand the right time to get your hand in motion so that Newton took over… and then you need some precise muscle control to know when to bring it back.  Start that a hair too soon or too late and all the audience hears is silence.  Silence.

But, if I remember correctly, it was spot on every time.  To the slapper, I say, “Thank You” for my brief solo during an awesome Christmas Song…. and for the lingering anxiety that I’m even feeling right now as I type this.

Thanks for reading…


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