Posts Tagged ‘alumni band’

Tomorrow is Homecoming at UD. There’s a buzz on campus for the first time in many years–a buzz that has students GLAD they are part of this campus. A buzz that feeds school spirit and one that makes just being on the grounds feel like HOME.  It takes an enormous effort to put together all the various events that take place on Homecoming–efforts that tend to go unacknowledged.  So let me take just a moment to thank the folks all over campus who have “stepped up their game” and made Homecoming something to look forward to as opposed to being a chore!!

With that said, the role of the band is multifaceted when it comes to game day. Preparation is pretty nuts frankly. Gotta get a new show out and make sure the old show is ready for postgame–toughest audience of the season: the UDMB alumni! They WANT to be wowed….(and in all humility I can say without any hesitation that “wowed” they will be tomorrow.) The band will have a shortened rehearsal at the ungodly hour of 730am in order to rehearsal with the Alumni Band at 830am. Then the Team Walk, then a quick “lunch,” then a performance inside the BOB at the President’s Reception.  After that we try (hope and pray) there is enough time to do the traditional concert in the Gold VIP lot. Then it’s clock work: west concourse parade and pregame.  All of that takes place between 9:30 – 11:45am.

…coffee…LOTS AND LOTS OF COFFEE will be required!

With all the insanity of Homecoming there are a few moments, albeit moments that are brief, that I cherish each year:

  • seeing the alumni from years past (this year we have folks from 1961 on the field!);
  • seeing their families (so many tuba mutes!  er, I mean, children!!);
  • seeing the multigenerational UDMB families on the field during “In My Life;”
  • watching the “old timers” mingle with the “baby band;”
  • smiling, laughing and knowing what it’s like to break the horn out again and trying to recapture your youth and relive those memories of entertaining the fans in UD stadium;

But most of all…I LOVE the stories! Each and every one of them begins with “Remember when…”

Tomorrow will be my 21st Homecoming at UD. I look forward to many, many more in the future. I know “the world did not begin with me” and that there were years and years of Homecomings that occurred long before I ever set foot on this campus. It is those stories I long to hear each year–the ones that happened prior to 1995. It is those stories I want the current band members to hear (albeit with an understanding that the world was very different back then!!). And the reason is so very simple:

You need to know where you came from in order to know where you’re going.

Welcome home alumni—we’ve missed you.

The eve before Thanksgiving. I’m sitting here in my family room with the fireplace a blaze…it’s still snowing outside albeit much less than earlier in the day. Delaware got its share of slush…the usual for this part of the eastern corridor. Tomorrow I will enjoy the company of friends–the turkey is ready for the oven, stuffing is ready to be baked, dessert is all done (bread pudding with whisky sauce–note the spelling of “whisky,” it is important), and cranberry relish is all chilled. There’s not much left to do except relax…FOR ONCE!

While rummaging through Facebook I came across a posting of a video that made me think just a little outside the box and allowed me to find a way to tie a bunch of different thoughts together into one topic:  traditions. As a band director it is a word that I tend to loathe. A dear friend once said that  “if you do something two years in a row it is suddenly a ‘tradition.'” Well said George, well said. Thanksgiving traditions–we all do it. Just re-read the above list of all the food I’ve prepared and there you have it.  (Please note the absence of pumpkin pie…um, gross. Apple is fine, but pumpkin…blech.) Families gather together all across the country and do “traditional” things. Once upon a time, not all that long ago, I would gather with George and part of his family out at a local Delaware golf course sometime during the 4-days. Regardless of weather or temps, we HAD to play golf!  It was a TRADITION!

But this time of year there are more traditions that cross my mind. It is the end of the season for the UDMB and the last home game is filled with traditions: seniors turn their capes around, seniors perform a senior show, the drum line marches the graduating members OUT the pregame gate–the way they first entered as Rookies, and the list goes on and on.  The band has a traditional song–it’s OUR song:  “In My Life.” It holds meaning to every member that can never be conveyed to someone who has never participated in the UDMB. Sure the outside world thinks they “get it,” but not in totality. The UMASS Minuteman Marching Band has “My Way.” These traditions are worth keeping and holding dear because they bridge the generational gap in a way that is indescribable.

Tonight I came across a video that made me think about all of this.  Every corps has their song. Star of Indiana had “When You Wish Upon A Star.” Santa Clara Vanguard: “Send In The Clowns.” The Cavaliers: “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.” And many more.  Any member of any drum corps will tell you that when they hear the melody of their corps song it stops them in their tracks and their hearts skip a beat.  Some call it tradition…I call it love.

Tomorrow the Madison Scouts will perform in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade…yet another tradition. The video I saw this evening was of the group playing “You’ll Never Walk Alone”–their song.  (click and enjoy.  For those on Facebook this one is even better.  )  Within seconds of watching/listening all I could do was think of this coming Saturday evening when I will spend a few hours with some very dear friends at the Reading Buccaneer Banquet. I still have yet to wrap my head around being inducted into the corps Hall of Fame…perhaps I will Saturday night. I do not know if the corps song will be sung…I hope it will be. Our song is set to the melody from the movie theme of “An Affair To Remember,” and my affair (if you will) with the Reading Buccaneers from 1983 – 1990 is one I cherish more than I can ever explain. As I posted upon hearing the news, the evening will be just a tad bittersweet due to “absent friends.” …but I was lucky enough to find a video of the song being sung that captures the depth of tradition, the bittersweetness of it all, and how a simple song can mean the world to people who have shared the same experiences.

Traditions…sometimes they ARE a good thing.

Homecoming Post Mortem…

Posted: October 18, 2014 in General
Tags: , , , , ,

Where do I begin?  I suppose I could start by thanking the folks who busted their butts to make today such a success (Jess, Jen, Brent, Zaniah) but I did that multiple times today.  I suppose I could thank the “Baby Band” for rockin’ the joint and causing the alumni to smile, laugh, and in many, many cases, cry tears of joy mixed with memory.  I supposed I could thank the staff for always having my back. I supposed I could thank Jim Ancona for sticking by my side for 20 years and always starting a conversation with “You know, next year…”

Or I could recount some of the sites I saw throughout the day that captured and warmed my heart:

  • alumni from almost every year I’ve been at the helm;
  • alumni from every decade since the 1960’s;
  • children of alumni ranging in age from 10 years old down to “just born!”
  • alumni whose names did not escape my mind for the first time ever!

Watching people cross the generation gap and make new friends in their sections was priceless.  They had different college band directors but it didn’t matter: everyone was part of the family and everyone needed to be hugged and cherished.

I saw many things today…I heard so many stories being recounted and shared.  I looked out over the sea of people during “In My Life” and was not overwhelmed with tearful emotion…I was overwhelmed with joy.  So many faces that brought me back to easier times.

One thing I saw that I did not bring attention to because 1) I did not need to point it out as it spoke for itself, and 2) I would have struggled holding it together, were the people who chose to wear their GNP ribbons from 2010.  I do not believe I have ever been more touched by such a simple gesture in my life.  He was in our band in the 70’s and he was and will continue to always be part of our program.  Thank you to the folks who chose to do that–meant more to me than you’ll ever know.

Life does not ever turn out the way you envisioned it.  Life is not something that can be organized, put in a little box and wrapped with a perfect bow. Life is messy (as my dear friends are desperately trying to get me to understand!).  No one knew in 1995 that two crazy kids (and boy were Jim and I really just kids!) were going to hang around Newark, DE for as long as we have.  No one knew whether the band would benefit or collapse. No one knew what the future would bring…we always think we know but in truth, we are at the mercy of whatever comes along.

UD is my last stop.  This is home. The UDMB is my family.  And I look forward to every year when my family members will come home and spend a few hours with this old woman…when we can join together for just a few moments and be kids again…together.

Thank you all for a wonderful 20th anniversary celebration.

Honestly I’m not really sure where to begin and that doesn’t make much sense to me. My 20th homecoming at UD…I should have some profound statement to make, some heartfelt story to share, some memory that triggers laughter and tears all at the same time but….at the moment….I’ve got nothing.

How is this possible?!  How can I sit here on the couch without having a single inspirational thought running through my mind?!  Has it finally happened? Have I lost my touch? Have I lost my mind? Have I come to the end of the road where Santa is standing next to a leprechaun, both looking at me with sheer annoyance??  …perhaps they are….

To be fair to myself, I actually have hundreds of memories racing through my mind.  Each one bringing a smile to my face.  What I find interesting is that every memory is equal to the next.  Yes there are some that seem to stand out at first but then another one pops into my head that has the same importance in the evolution of the program.  Each story is better than the next and yet they all seem to stand shoulder to shoulder with each other because of one overarching theme: family.

I’ve written about about this topic before but sometimes certain topics are worth revisiting.  We all have family.  Mine are all up in northern NJ or Manhattan.  Our families bind us together–they are there for us in good times and bad.  They can always be counted on when needed.  Some people are lucky to have an extended family…I’m one of those people.

From college friends who have stuck by my side through thick and thin to former students who are now colleagues and cohorts, it really doesn’t get any better than this!  Band brought us all together…band keeps us together.  Band is family….UD is home.

20 years have flown by…and with that about 3000 people have graced my life by letting me share in theirs.  We’ve shared happy thoughts, flown past the second star to the right and have found Neverland together. We’ve weathered Indians, alligators and a few Captain Hooks over the years but we’ve always come out the other side as far better people.  The people come and go but there will always be Lost Boys to look after, and there will always be another adventure.

See you all bright and early……

—tink.

For the first time in my career–perhaps life–I find myself enjoying a moment of peace and restfulness.  I’m sitting on my deck at home, sipping a new coffee from my favorite coffee roaster in New Jersey (Moon Doggie Coffee Roasters – try them!) called “Ground Zero – Fat Man French Roast.”  It’s 64 degrees outside, the deck is still in the shade and I’m sweating.  Ok, perhaps a little too much TMI there but do I like to provide you, The Reader, with the complete picture whenever possible.  It is T-minus 10 hours, 45 minutes before the start of my 20th band camp as director of the University of Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hen Marching Band…I have nothing to do but laundry while I get my scores and drill charts organized.  Everything seems ready to go…I wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t just a little nervous about not having to run around like a crazy person doing last minute projects but all seems to be in place so I’ll take advantage of this momentary “quiet before the storm.”

20 years…when did that happen?? I do not know if I’m more astonished that 20 years have flown by or that I’m still here after 20 years.  Now do not let that last statement upset you, it is nothing more than an obvious observation: 20 years at one institution is a long time in this day and age.  I do not believe that in 1995 I thought UD would be my “last stop.” Frankly I do not believe I thought anything other than “how do I survive my first day as band director at a major university?!”  A dear friend once called me “loyal to a fault.”  It was, and quite frankly, still is the most accurate assessment of my nature.  When something in my life “works” I stick with it to the end, be it bitter or sweet.  People do ask though why I haven’t moved on to “bigger and better” things.  There are multiple reasons for this and I will not delve into them because each would require a magnitude of explanation for those out there who do not understand the “nature of the beast” (college marching band). I will just offer a blanket statement: I know my demons here and THAT is reason enough.

How does one measure 20 years at the same job? Three dogs (Walter (ATB), Buford (ATB) and Della) and four cats (Sheba (ATB), Guinness, Oscar and Shalli). No children (unless you count the 6000 that have shared each academic year with me over the course of the last two decades). One apartment, one rental house, one owned house. The loss of both parents, best friend, and countless other friends, relatives and colleagues.  Three cars (Celica, Infiniti and Infiniti). Two arthroscopies (one on each knee), one partial knee replacement, and gallbladder removal.  One ulcer. Trifocals.

Well that is certainly one way to measure 20 years….but how about we do it another way?

Trips to Boston, UMASS (countless times), MICCA, ACCs in Scranton and Hershey, various shows at Frawley Stadium, Allentown, Navy, Towson, JMU, Connecticut, Washington Township, GRAND NATS in Indianapolis, Chattanooga – twice!, Texas (sort of), the 9-11 halftime show during Band Day w/UMASS, new uniforms (2002), new uniforms (2013), George Parks getting stuck on the lift–in the air (priceless), FOILED!, FORKED!, CAR PAINTED!, POST-IT NOTED!

I’m sure I missed a bunch of other momentous occasions but these seem to stand out as the most significant milestones.  In my life I’ve loved them all…

I’ve been asked a few times already, and I’m sure I’ll be asked the same question many more times as the year unfolds: “What is your favorite moment from the last 20 years?”  For me it is not an event, not an occurrence, not any singular moment in time.  It is that in all my time here there has been one other constant: Jim Ancona. There are very few programs in the country that can claim a partnership such as ours.  Twenty years of growth and understanding all based upon the same philosophical point of view.  I can think of only one other such partnership (George Parks & Thom Hannum).  I think Jim and I are in some pretty good company.

What will the next 20 years bring?  ARE YOU KIDDING ME???? Let’s aim for 12 or 15 at the most and close the door with a nice quiet retirement at a beach house near Rehoboth, ok?  What is in store for the rest of the journey until retirement arrives is not for us to say, nor to guess.  Wherever the road takes me is where I will go…but if the last 20 were any indication of what the last third of the journey will be like I think we’re in for quite a wild ride!

T-minus 9 hours, 20 minutes until BAND CAMP #20.

—sarv

(Oh, hey alumni?  Homecoming: October 18.  FIGURE IT OUT!)

UDMB DM Megan NixonTomorrow is the final home game of the 2011 regular season.  A typical season on some levels; an atypical one many others (hurricanes, earthquakes, and more).  As is always the case I became a bit reflective as I drove the lift from the turf complex across the dark athletic fields.  This is a traditional solitary ride for me–I like it that way to be honest.  Me driving a big piece of construction equipment at twilight….ok, it’s a little weird I will give you that.  But for some reason I am able to use the time to be deep in my thoughts about the season that is about to pass into the history books in 24 hours, and about a very special group of seniors.

Anyone who spends countless hours on a football field in every conceivable type of weather doing one of the most physically demanding SPORTING activities known to man has a right to be happy, thrilled, ecstatic that it is all about to come to an end.  And yet every year there are tears in the eyes, if not falling down the faces, of each senior band member.  The realization that a huge part of WHO they are is coming to an end hits, and it hits hard.  Sure there were hard rehearsals, of course there was frustration at times, and yes, there were days you did not want to be out there anymore.  But now, facing “the final curtain,” one finds themselves wishing to be a rookie again; wishing they could do it all over again because it all happened far too fast.  More time, please can we have more time?!

“Regrets, I’ve had a few” is how another stanza of that song goes, and yes, I’m sure every member of the UDMB has had one or two over the years.  But regrets are not what the seniors are focusing on right now.  They are thinking about their first band camp; the first friends they made that they will probably keep for the rest of their adult lives; their first overnight trip sleeping on a gym floor; mixing with UMASS and watching two grown adults (George Parks and I) acting like little kids, each band being embarrassed by their respective director and both directors looking at each other and laughing harder; their lifetime memory of marching in the Presidential Inaugural Parade in Washington, D.C. and NOT freezing to death; flying to Texas for a football championship game; and anticipating their final regular season performance in Annapolis, MD in 48 hours.

The memories are endless for this year’s UDMB senior class just as they are endless for every senior class that came before and will be for every senior class yet to come.  There is no other organization in college that goes out of its way to provide as many experiences as possible for it’s members–experiences that are not to be had anywhere else on campus.  THAT is my goal, THAT is what drives me, THAT is why I do this year after year.  To see their faces when they are living IN THE MOMENT–there is no greater joy for me.  (I learned that from a dear friend not that long ago.)

So to the seniors and EVERYONE in the UDMB, here is your to do list for the final weekend:

  • Make eye contact with those around you and “be in it WITH” them;
  • Meet a few new people in band you’ve not met yet;
  • Cheer for the team; the cheerleaders; dance team; mascots AND EACH OTHER;
  • Thank a Field Staff and Ad Staff member;
  • Thank a ROOKIE;
  • Hug your friends;
  • Thank you parents;
  • Enjoy each and every moment of the experience because it only happens once each year.
And lastly, if you’ve learned anything this year I hope it was–
  • To love what you do;
  • To love each other;
  • And to love yourself  – with complete and total abandonment…”in my life, I loved them all.”