This time of year is always challenging for me. Some of it is the winter blues that everyone tends to get to one degree or another. Some of it is the end of two incredibly intense seasons (summer–DMA and fall–UDMB) that always come to a screeching halt once football concludes. After months playing the role of Director where one must create in one form or another on a daily, if not, hourly basis, the holiday vacation is a welcomed respite. The challenge are the 6+ weeks AFTER the holidays….they drag on and on and on with little to no direction, offering little to no motivation.
This year I did have the “distraction” of adding a bit more metal, plastic and this time, ceramics to my body. Nothing like a hip replacement to give you something to focus upon each day. Nope, nothing like it AT ALL. The hip has certainly taken priority and given me goals to achieve, such as going up the stairs using my legs and not hauling my body up by my arms. You know, small goals. Yet the annual Winter Blahs still took hold pretty tight because of one missing component: I live to create.
I know, I most certainly could do all sorts of things to quench this desire but it’s not the same as standing in front of 300-400 students, be it DMA or UDMB, who are “in it with you.” Nope, just not the same. Yet today I realized something I have always known but tend to forget: Creating is much more than just the nuts and bolts of pageantry–stop being literal and think outside the proverbial box.
“Providing opportunities for the students that they might not ever get to experience unless they are in the UDMB.” This is my personal motto…ok, so I stole from someone else but if he were still with us I know he would approve and applaud. All sarcasm aside though, I do truly believe the above statement is my “bigger” job. Let me explain:
During the winter two organizations exist that my role is to merely oversee. Pep Band is directed by Jim Ancona. I jokingly tell people I just pay the bills. In truth while I do indeed pay the bills, I also know that back in 1995 when we (Jim and I) decided to make the Pep Band a formal ensemble, it was critical that I supported Jim and his decisions, that we were a team even though he did all of the “heavy lifting.” Today I still pay the bills. Rarely do I need to cover any games as we have three Graduate Assistants who help Jim, but I do break out the horn from time to time and join in on the fun. What I know more than anything though is that just by showing up to a game and LISTENING to the band play, cheering along with them, and “cracking wise” with them is more important than anything else—they see me supporting their endeavors. And THAT is the bigger picture.
So today I spent time at a men’s basketball game hanging with the Pep Band. I was unable to stay for the conclusion of the game because I needed to drive out the New Jersey to see the other group at their first competition of the 2015 season: Delazure indoor guard.
Again, my role is to pay the bills. I have this wonderful creative staff (Sarah McAdams, Phil Cavalcanto and our new designer, Joey Heininger) that does all the writing. I do my best to get to as many shows as I can–something I have come to realize that a number of my colleagues around the country do not do…something I will never understand. I may not write the drill or the work, I most certainly am not out there teaching them movement (maybe after the other hip and knee get replaced…..um….nah, not even then!). But they ARE my students and they deserve my support in as many ways as I can provide it.
Their show this year is titled “A Winter’s Gift,” and it is stunning. It is the fastest-paced show we’ve every produced, it is layered in more ways than you can count (with much more to come) and in a word, it is beautiful. But it was the title that struck home with me this evening…a winter’s gift….
Perhaps that is what it is really all about. I live to create, I love to create…but creating doesn’t have to be the nuts and bolts all the time. Creating can be providing opportunities for the students that they might not ever get to experience unless they are in the UDMB…or Pep Band…or Delazure. That is my winter’s gift.