The Annual Migration of the Timpani

I saw four enormous birds soaring over town in migration a couple of weeks ago . They were whooping cranes, probably on their way to Alberta.  I have only seen migrating whooping cranes one other time in all the years we have been here.  We also have had geese fly over, and the owls, hawks, meadowlarks, and vultures are back.

Yesterday Husband and I assisted in the migration of  two timpani from the college band room to our church in Husband’s pickup. They are needed for a piece  our bell choir is doing on Sunday with a brass quintet. (Our bell choir director failed to see how funny it was when she kept saying a few weeks ago that she was one trombone player short of a brass quintet. She didn’t get it when people replied to her that they had always thought that).

When I grew up in Luverne, we usually had timpani in my church on Easter. They came from the high school. All the high school band directors in my youth were Lutheran, and we always got the timpani for special church services. No one from the community ever complained about it as being unfair or a misuse of public property. Our bell choir director teaches at the college, and I guess that is why we have the timpani for Easter. Our church probably has the most music of all the churches in town, and not all of them have the space for such things even if they had the musicians.

I wondered yesterday just how many timpani in the US are migrating from schools to churches for Easter services.  I like to imagine that there are many in transit, and that it is a brief but yearly migration. I like to see cooperative use of such things. How many timpani does one small town need, after all?

What migratory birds have you seen lately? What percussion instruments would you like to play?  What are some successful public-private cooperative ventures you know about?

55 thoughts on “The Annual Migration of the Timpani”

  1. I have a set of drums (actually 2) out in the warehouse waiting for me to set them up in my music room. I have a daughter who played in high school and I bought one set at a garage sale but it left something to be desired. The other set id be happy to leave set up for a long time. I just signed a two year lease on this house, I guess I can set it up. That and my hot tub. I have also wanted to play marimbas all my life. I am fascinated by the sound and the premise. Wooden blocks cut to hit a certain pitch likewater glasses filled to play a tune. Vibes and xylophone are the same appeal.
    My wife sets up graduation for her school and rents an arena to hold the 1000 or so people that graduate in various programs at the event . They used to rent a church and I asked her why they rent. Its astute owned school. Doesn’t the state own a bunch of venues that would work. They stopped renting the church because the graduates from the college are multi faith and it occurred to someone the Lutheran input on an ethnic celebration may not sit well. I have thought the same thing about elections.
    The geese are flying by. A mallard flew by low and fast. I thought it was a teal it came at me so fast. A couple geese came out of the water trough next to the freeway yesterday while I was riding my motorcycle and I had to stay focused to be sure they didn’t end up in my teeth. I was impressed how everyone slowed from 70 to 5 to avoid the migration glitch. I didn’t think they were gonna make it.
    We set bird ffood out for the locals after the april snow and had grand central station at the backyard feeder last week
    Owls and woodpeckers eagles and hawks are all out. I notice more on my motorcycle than I do in the car.
    No migrating timpani yet. My son is singing in the messiah tomorrow in Phoenix. I think they imported him instead of the percussion. Jacque do you want to go see him perform?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. There was a beautiful red cardinal in the backyard this morning. Of course I had to step out on the porch and say “fly away, fly away” before I let the speed of light dog out.

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  2. OT – I took a tumble yesterday afternoon in the back yard. Bruised, scraped forehead, and both wrists are hurting. Not broken (I hope), but certainly jammed. Luckily I only scraped, but didn’t break, the lenses on my glasses. Don’t want to have to buy new glasses until after my cataract surgery. I need a lot of bubblewrap for my birthday.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Isn’t scheduled as yet. I have an appointment with the retina specialist (yes, apparently there is such a thing) on May 2nd. to determine which surgery should happen first. They’re not considering the possibility that I might off myself before then. Hope they’re right.

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        1. No, I’m not dreading it, I trust I’ll be OK. That said, the idea of someone poking a sharp object into my eye is a bit scary. But, in the overall scheme of things, this is small fry.

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    1. Go to the whole food and get some arnica 30c for trauma followed by bryonia30c for the sprains . In the homeopathic area.
      Do it quicker rather than later if you can.
      Glasses can have the scratches buffed out if they’re not to deep. A buffer wheel in hans bag of tricks?

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  3. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    Last Tuesday on the plane back to MPLS, Snow Birds were migrating in flocks. The average age of people on that plane must have been 80 years. I felt like a youngster.

    Yesterday on my way to work, across the Bloomington Ferry Bridge, I saw several enormous while pelicans taking off and landing on the water. Spectacular. I hope to get out today and see more animals.

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    1. A cousin who lives in Duluth has been out taking photos of pelicans near there. He has a couple spots where he likes to go to find owls and other birds of prey – seeing the pelicans in his photo stream was delightful.

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  4. What ever happened to all those pelicans who disappeared from their spot in Dakota 2 or 3 years ago leaving their young in their nests in departure.
    It was a mystery I don’t think I ever heard another word on

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    1. There was a mass pelican chick die off from Nile Virus on the ND Chase Lake reserve. Sometimes as many as 30,000 pelicans are there.

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  5. I will admit to a desire to learn timpani. It fascinates me that you can get so many tones out of a big metal bowl with a fancy, tunable lid. Also they just sound cool. No timpani at our church – we sometimes had them when I was growing up – always had brass. Lots of brass. I kind of miss the crisp, clear tone of a trumpet on Easter Sunday, heralding in the new season.

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  6. Timpani migration. Back in the day at St. Catherine’s Catholic Church in Luverne having any kind of drum in church certainly won’t happen. No, no, no.

    However, I play timpani at our church, Calvary Episcopal Church, Rochester, MN the timpani we have I’m sure were used for the Roman slaves on their war ships much like the scene from Ben Hur. They are old, pedal is broken, tension is shoot and trying to stay tuned to a note is me literally dancing from one timp to the other. Must look ‘amazing’ from behind where the congregation is. But it works.

    By the way, we have birds too.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Hi-

    I’ve had to help unload and move around a lot of timpani. There are good ways and bad ways to grip them and move them. One percussionist, whom we have in our phones just so we know not to answer when he calls, is very particular about how we handle them. And I understand that, he’s just extra arrogant about it.

    I know the anonymous Lutheran from Luverne- I told him to respond and answer your questions.

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  8. On Easter morning all over America
    the peasants are frying potatoes in bacon grease.

    We’re not supposed to have “peasants”
    but there are tens of millions of them
    frying potatoes on Easter morning,
    cheap and delicious with catsup.

    If Jesus were here this morning he might
    be eating fried potatoes with my friend
    who has a ’51 Dodge and a ’72 Pontiac.

    When his kids ask why they don’t have
    a new car he says, “these cars were new once
    and now they are experienced.”

    He can fix anything and when rich folks
    call to get a toilet repaired he pauses
    extra hours so that they can further
    learn what we’re made of.

    I told him that in Mexico the poor say
    that when there’s lightning the rich
    think that God is taking their picture.
    He laughed.

    Like peasants everywhere in the history
    of the world ours can’t figure out why
    they’re getting poorer. Their sons join
    the army to get work being shot at.

    Your ideals are invisible clouds
    so try not to suffocate the poor,
    the peasants, with your sympathies.
    They know that you’re staring at them.

    ~ Jim Harrison, “Easter Morning”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jim harrison got his initial funding in my friends bar in livingston montana when jack nicholson gave him 50,000 dollars do he could sit home and writer i get started rather than fight with a day job
      that bar had a great literary band of writers and characters
      i gotta get back

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  9. Oh my, I has no idea I’d cause such a rabble. Forgive me. This is my first entry into the blogging phenomenon. Thanks to a close friend of mine.
    Luvernites relax a bit. I’m not from Luverne but Hills. And, yes, my family and my cousins were the only two Catholic families residing in Hills. We all lived by trees. We did ‘commute’ to St. Catherine’s every Sunday for the earlier Mass possible and every Saturday afternoon for Catechism. Plus all those Holy Days.
    Our high school timpani back in 1966 were better than the ones I’m banging today.
    Enjoy your Easter or Passover with family, friends and food.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. The timpani have migrated back to the college band room. One of our church members is a power lifter who helped lift them up into the pick up. Husband had to haul them down two short flights of stairs to the band room. He is stiff and sore tonight. Thank the lord Easter is over!

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