The nature of music making means that there are many opportunities for making a complete fool of yourself in front of a lot of people. One particular event that stands out in my mind is the end of year concert at Hailsham Community College, Sussex, England in July 1998.
As the visiting brass teacher and band director, I was due to conduct the College band at the opening of the concert which was a showcase of the year’s musical achievements and annual prize giving ceremony. In attendance at this year’s celebration were the usual school dignitaries, guests and the Mayor as well as many hundreds of parents and children.
As a busy peripatetic teacher, I had been rushing around all day from school to school and had hardly anytime for myself. Having arrived in Hailsham with plenty of time, checked in with the band and Director of Music, I still had fifteen spare, precious minutes for a long needed trip to the toilet! So, off I go to the staff room, on the top floor, locate the men’s room at the far end, find a clean cubicle and breathe a sigh of relief. Not one minute into my activity, I hear the terminal ‘clunk’ of a door being locked. The toilet door! After a few moments of disbelief, I begin calling out “Hello, hello, I’m in here!” To no avail. I am locked in the toilet on the top floor of a remote part of a huge Community College five minutes before curtain up.
The over zealous caretaker had decided to get a head start on his evening’s shutting down routine and I was on the inside, trapped.
A small window was my only option and route of escape, so after prizing it open, I managed to squeeze my six foot frame through the unfeasibly small orifice only to find myself on the roof of the main hall some fifty feet above ground level. A quick scout around found a skylight looking directly down and into the concert hall where my band and the audience were waiting patiently for the arrival of the conductor. Me! Over the PA, I heard the chilling words, “Please welcome our brass teacher and band director, Roger Moisan” Audience applaud and I do not walk on to the stage because I am on the roof!
Panic kicked in and I decided I had to get down some how, so after a bit of roof hopping from level to level, I managed to get low enough to be able to slide down and drop on to a dumpster, leg it around the front of the building, into the hall, pick up my baton and start the band. We played well and all seemed ok until my chat with the mayor after the show. “Roger, do you realise you have what seems to be a tyre track mark all the way up your trousers and jacket?” It was the summer and my concert attire was a beige Chino suit (it was the 90s) and those in the know are aware that schools use non-setting, thick black paint to prevent the most athletic kids from climbing onto the roof. I had performed, with my back to the crowd, looking like a victim from a Road Runner cartoon!
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Much love and happy music making,