Second Endings

When nearing the end of an hour-long community band rehearsal (for which one wasn’t fully prepared in the first place), an amateur instrumentalist may find few words more welcome from the director’s mouth than these: “Second endings! Second endings!”

Those uptempo marches by John Phillip Sousa and Karl King often have two or more repeated sections, and when one’s lip is about to peel away and one’s jaw finds it impossible to grip that mouthpiece for another five seconds, the reprieve of “Take second endings!” is akin to a dehydrated soul reaching a desert oasis after a protracted crawl across shifting sands.

Last Wednesday marked the final concert of the slightly abbreviated 2017 summer season for about half of the “Amazing” Worthington City Band members. For the other half, the show will go on–all the way to Crailsheim, Germany, where for the first time in six years the band will perform in Worthington’s sister city (a relationship shared since 1947) and relax into the bliss of Bier, Brezeln and Gemütlichkeit which the Crailsheimers deliver so expertly.

Those enviable band mates of mine will get a “second ending” that is guaranteed to provide lifelong memories.

Sure, there’s a certain beauty and symmetry in “first endings;” making it through an entire piece of music, or life experience, and arriving at the proper conclusion after getting everything just right is gratifying.

At times, however, relishing a “second ending” is also rewarding, particularly if the “first ending” arrived too soon for one to fully appreciate it, or before one developed the mastery to do justice to the experience. (Skipping ahead to a second ending isn’t always bad either, if the first attempt was simply not something one would ever wish to repeat or was thoroughly exhausting.)

“Second endings” can be a little like second chances, which I imagine nearly everyone needs once in awhile.

Did you make mistakes the first time through? Forget to observe the key signature and miss too many accidentals? Never fear; watch for the repeat sign and improve the next time.

Or was it a section you favored and couldn’t get enough of? Well, you get to play it again and soak up every bit of harmony and rhythm that appealed to you the first time around.

Parents sometimes need to take “second endings” and forgive themselves for errors inadvertently made (with every good intention) with Child #1. Child #2, or #3 or #4, may be the beneficiary of the “second ending” approach, with the sharp edges rubbed off a parent’s perfectionistic, “by the book” tendencies in time to make the subsequent rounds somewhat smoother.

In one-on-one adult relationships–particularly marriages–“second endings” can be desirable as couples look ahead after their children are grown, or following personal crises, or employment debacles, or any number of challenges that people encounter as they move together through life in partnerships. With effort, imagination and forgiveness, “second endings” may be even better than first ones.

Friendships benefit from “second endings” when friends are willing to forgive, forget and move on without clinging to any bittersweet aspects of a first go-around.

Really, there’s a lot to be said for second endings.

The “Amazing” Worthington City Band members traveling next week to Germany will engage in one of the best “second endings” they can ever hope to discover. But it pays to remember that second endings lead to conclusions and closure, and after closure there are invariably new beginnings–new experiences, new chances, new opportunities and new seasons.

Here’s wishing Director Mike Peterson and the traveling band members the safest and happiest of “second endings” they can muster while representing Worthington to our German friends.

Gute Reise!