Things that keep me up at night

Five years later, I still have problems listening to the field show music from high school marching band. Not so much the parade tunes, because those were mostly pop tunes like the Beatles’ Penny Lane and Green Day’s Holiday, and I only have the mainstream versions of those songs, but I have show music from two of the three field shows I did. (I have the audio from the 2005 show, but found parts one and two from our 2006 show on YouTube.)

(By the way, if anyone has a recording from the 2007 Calgary Stampede Fanfare or 2007 MACBDA, I would love to have the audio for Bishop Grandin’s Angels field show — I don’t think there was a Music in Motion that year, and if there was, Grandin wasn’t a part of it.)

Anyways, when I’m listening to the field show music, all I can hear is the tenor sax part. (Note: I was a tenor sax player.) Of course I still “hear” all the other parts, but I hear them in terms of how they interact with the tenor part, not how the four pieces are supposed to sound overall.

It’s what happens when a) you live, breathe and sleep the music for pretty much June and July each year during the full-blown show season, and b) you memorize the freakin sheet music for nearly 10 months of the year.

Shifting gears, there’s a parallel to journalism here.

Quite honestly, I hated learning CP Style (the grammar and style bible for most journalists in Canada; the U.S. uses Associated Press — AP — Style) in school. We were assigned a section each week and expected to regurgitate it the following week on a quiz. So I did. Then I went to my first internship and had 40 pages of copy land on my desk that needed to be copy edited each week. I learned a lot of CP Style that summer.

Then I went back to school for my third and fourth years and served in three different editor positions for two different newspapers. I learned even more CP Style.

I like editing. It eats at your soul sometimes, especially when you’re editing work from someone you’ve edited before and they keep making the same mistake and they refuse to change, but I like editing.

I can also be a little touchy about editing. It’s one thing for someone, anyone, not to know the difference between “there,” “their” and “they’re,” or “it’s” and “its.” What scares me is when I see it in newspaper copy — I kind of hope journalists, of all people, would know better. OK, that’s why there’s editors. But I can still hope, right? (There was also a lot of “Clagary” when I was editing copy for “Calgary” newspapers.)

The parallel I want to draw is that if someone else listened to my show music, I think they would hear completely different music than I do — assuming they’re not a tenor sax player. The same thing goes for copy. I think someone reading the newspaper is going to notice a spelling mistake. But if I didn’t point it out, would they notice I was accidentally inconsistant with my use of “yoghurt” and “yogurt” in a column? (CP Style prefers no h, in case you need to know that in order to be able to sleep tonight.) Or, if I handed them another one of my columns, are they going to be able to find the two mistakes, one grammatical and one CP error that I made? (Two mistakes and one sentence that needs to be reworded, that I’m aware of, at least.)

I have to draw this parallel because it’s gotten to the point where I absent-mindedly correct leaflets left on restaurant tables, and most press releases I have on my desk have some kind of copy editing marks on them.

I think there’s a lot to be said for being a good editor. But I also have to be able to sleep at night.


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