Posts Tagged ‘bucs’

Been a number of months since I’ve posted and, as it is with everyone else in the world life has certainly kept moving along.  Today I started the last summer workshop I share with Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser.  It is always a bittersweet weekend–we love hanging together, working with young adults, etc., but we both know this is the last stop before the world crashes in upon both of us and we split up for the next 10 months.

But that is for another post….

As I was teaching the first 45 minute block outside in the “land of heat and humidity” (My God it was like teaching in a steam room!!) I noticed a man standing off to the side just watching…and smiling. I knew instantly who it was and waited for the right moment to interject within my instructions “Is that Mr. Glen Rhine back there?” His smile filled his face, he nodded and bowed. At the first moment of “#3 teach clean everything I just taught you,” I went over to say hello to my old friend from my days in the Buccaneers.

Back then, in the 1980’s I watched a man spend all his time working on the small things: hand positions, guiding techniques, foot placement, horn angles, etc.  The nitty gritty of the activity. Back then I thought he was missing it–I thought he had no idea what he was talking about. We needed to work on the BIG stuff, not the fact that my index finger wasn’t exactly next to my middle finger. Who cares about that? No one can tell!

Oh what I didn’t know! Oh if I knew then what I know now!!!  Success is in the details–the nitty gritty details.  Sure the band is loud but the trumpets don’t stand at attention the same way. They look sloppy.  Fix that, add the sound and BOOM!  Greatness!!  …if only it were that simply, but I know you get the point.

Glen and I had lunch together for the first time in 30 years. What a great hour it was to catch up with him, to hear he’s still out there teching high school bands, to hear that he’s even more passionate about not just fixing the nitty gritty but in teaching the students WHY and HOW–not just WHAT!  He sat there and he told me about how much he has learned since taking yoga and how it has helped him to break down and analyze backward marching–how each and every muscle in the foot needs to do certain things in order for the backward initiation to occur.

I sat there in amazement and joy as I listened to a 66 year old man speak with such passion about teaching high school band kids how to march.  And there was the lesson: He said,

“Heidi, at our age we don’t NEED to be doing this! We do it because we WANT to.”

Do I NEED to be out there with sweat running down my entire body as if I was standing in a shower? No.

Do I NEED to be out there not only in the heat, but the rain, the cold temperatures, and even snow, jumping up and down like a crazed person trying to get a college marching band to wake up and put out some energy. No.

I do not NEED to do any of those things….I WANT to do them.   Thank you Glen.

 

It was the spring of 1995 and it was just another job. That’s right: A JOB. For after all, what is being a band director at a major university: nothing more than a paycheck. Right? …not even close.

I did not know then that I would spend the rest of my life in Delaware. At the time I considered it as another job that might lead somewhere else one day. Frankly I was never one who looked farther down the road than 10 feet. When it came to work, I lived in the proverbial moment. (Not so much with the rest of my life but that is neither here nor there.) The University of Delaware hired me to be their marching band director and that was that–time to get “at it.”

21 years later I find myself still here. Many life events have occurred: I lost both parents, a few pets, and an enormous amount of dear friends and loved ones. I bought and remodeled a house. I have been through a ridiculous amount of cars. My knees and hips have either been rebuilt, replaced or on the brink of one or the other. …we will NOT discuss my shoulders…

Regardless of all that, I consider Delaware my home. Sure I’m a north Jersey broad that marched drum corps (Go Bucs!) and can still drive like I own the road, but my home and heart has taken up residence in a small state that is nothing to be messed with.

Tomorrow night the one “thing” I love more than perhaps anything in the world will come to life on a football field. 350 college students will don uniforms, carry instruments and give up their hearts and souls for 15 minutes during halftime at a football game and again for a tad longer post-game. This “thing” keeps me going year after year. I would be a liar if I didn’t say it gets a bit more difficult each summer to summon up the energy, the creative power to write a show, the ability to push physical pain and limitation away and “be in it with them” again. But somehow, some way I manage.  I have to because they expect nothing less.

This “thing” will once again remind me how much I love what I do, how grateful I am to have A JOB that I love each and every day, how lucky I am to be able to give to others what was once given to me. To strive for excellence, to achieve goals only dreamed of, to push beyond self-inflicted personal limitations, to look into the faces of those who do not understand and smile thinking “they have no idea what a joy my world truly is.”

It’s called college marching band.  It is a world that cannot be explained–just accept it as something greater than yourself. Being Santa is hard work…not so sure I would have it any other way…

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.

his-bucsA few times over the years of posting thoughts and ideas and commentary and the occasionally rare criticism I have made the following remark:  “My humble hat is stapled to my head.”  It’s true…ok, perhaps not stapled but most assuredly Gorilla Glued on.  I am always quick to deflect congratulatory statements from others, passing them off to the band members because, in my heart, I truly believe they are the ones who deserve the kudos.  I’m merely the caretaker, the custodian, the one who guides the ship but doesn’t make it run.

Perhaps there is some flaw in this approach but I have never really liked the whole “It’s not them, it’s not them, it’s me!” thing.  The reason for this is simple:  without THEM, there is no ME.  I have learned a little over the last few years to simply say “thank you” when moments of congratulations present themselves.  It is hard for me…and only those closest to me know and understand that.  The outside world sees the demanding, dictatorial, rules with an iron fist woman who stands before a crowd of 20,000+ and sucks up the applause.  If only you knew how much truth lies in the notion: “It’s not you, it’s the position.”

And yet, every once in a while a moment comes along in a person’s life when one has to remove the humble hat and take a bow.  …bare with me, this will be challenging.

On the afternoon of November 1, 2014 I received a phone call just as the band was marching under the West grandstands and heading to the pregame entrance gates.  I looked at the number, didn’t recognize it, yet, against my better judgement, decided to take the call for reasons unknown to me.  I had only a few minutes before the pregame show needed to start and there I was answering the phone.

On the other end was Lois and Lou Tierno with the news that I was to be inducted into the 2014 Reading Buccaneer Senior Drum and Bugle Corps Hall of Fame.  I was, perhaps for the first time in my life (or at least in a very long time) rendered speechless. I’ve been removed from the corps for years…24 to be exact. My time with the organization was a scant 8 years: 5 on soprano bugle and 3 as drum major. Not really a lifetime commitment as so many other inductees have made.  But I suppose my contribution to the corps continued long after I departed by sending students to learn from them just as I did, and then those members going on to become staff members, just as I did.  In retrospect I supposed I’ve always been connected to Blue in some manner.

I do not speak much of my time with Reading–it holds a very dear and special place in my heart that is difficult to explain to those who have never been part of such an organization.  I was 19 when I joined–one heck of a cocky trumpet player who didn’t know that she didn’t know.  I was fearless.  Some might say the person I am today was “born in Blue”–a raw young kid who was shaped by so many gifted (and patient) instructors, who left before she was finished “cooking” but had the support in place to continue along the path on her own terms.  I grew up in the Bucs, that is clear.  I was “broken” there and then mended, molded and reshaped into something much more than I realized at the time.

My mentors were many: Matt Krempasky, Darrell Weyman, Chuck Runkle, Glen and Andi Brumbach, Carol O’Brien, Amy (DeLong) Snook, Robbie Robinson, Ken Sherry, Ralph Pace, Jerry Kelsey, Ron Gehris, Grant Hill, and of course, George Parks (and so many others…and the moment you begin to name any you leave out ones you should have included so my sincerest apologies for that).

I learned about family from my parents, aunts, uncles and cousins. This idea of family became more pronounced during my time with the corps. In turn it was enhanced and reinforced during my time at UMASS with George. But all those lessons and values and ethics did not crystalize until this kid simmered a bit more over the years, and began to pass on the lessons to my own “kids” at the University of Delaware.  In the end, all I ever really needed to know I learned at Reading.

I’m honored, humbled, and most grateful to be part of the 2014 Reading Buccaneer Hall of Fame.  I could share stories for hours and hours about all the joys and tears of that time in my life.  But that is for when we sit around the nursing home and not for this moment. And while it is bittersweet not to be able to share this moment with absent friends, I know they are standing on the deck of the ship we will all board one day when we will once again rule the seas, together.

Aye me Buccaneers…for we are indeed, all good men.

…thank you.

It has been MONTHS since I took the time to post here and I’m not all that sure why.  There were many times I had this particular post running around in my cluttered mind but simply didn’t make the time.  Hmmm…that is unacceptable for me.  I will attempt to be better at my communication….until the calendar starts to fill up again.  🙂

The holiday season has come and gone and I was struck by how many people were “chatting” about all the things they were thankful for.  What struck me was the number of posts that addressed the present and future but very little about the past.  I found that interesting.  Now, don’t get me wrong–I’m BEYOND grateful for all the wonderful people currently in my life and the wonderful things I am experiencing.  Thankful simply doesn’t come close to how I feel about all I have.  But I also know that if it weren’t for all that came before (people and experiences) I would NEVER be where I am today!

We are all a composite of everyone who has crossed our paths–the “big” people in our lives (family members, teachers, role models, etc.) and the “little” people in our lives (the stock boy at the supermarket, the front desk manager at the hotel, the man who held the door for you at WaWa, etc.).  Every person and every event you’ve ever encountered and experienced had an impact on WHO you’ve become!

…when you stop to think about that it quickly becomes overwhelming…

So as I sit here in a hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with the balcony door open and the salt air coming into the room, enjoying nice cup of coffee and getting ready work with the Bowl Games of America All-Star Band and the high school bands joining us for a massed band finale with the Miami Sound Machine at the BCS National Title Game I want to give a “shout out” to the people who contributed to this crazy person my students call SARV—

  • Mom and Dad;
  • The Basses, Sarvers, Dinbarts, and Hoffmans (and all the other family extensions!);
  • My music teachers (Mrs. Goldblatt, Miss Gonzales, Mrs. Andrews, Mr. Brown, Mr. Law, Mr. Sayre, Mr. Goff, Mr. Beavers, Dr. Deihl, Dr. Bundy, Mr. Chesnut, Mr. Rowell, George;
  • The neighborhood kids who screamed outside our living room window telling me to stop practicing piano (….I didn’t);
  • All those who understood that my trumpet was always in my possession and band was life whether they “got it” or not;
  • My friends in college who did (and still do) “get it;”
  • All the Reading Bucs and other drum corps folks;
  • My past colleagues who shared the same dream–becoming a college band director or music professor–but for their own reasons chose different paths;
  • Former students who shaped all the programs I’ve ever been part of;

And this could go on forever–it is infinite.

For me it is simple: we are who we are because of those who have come in and out of our lives.  They have all left their mark upon our lives.  But there is one particular group of people I wish to address that is not necessarily of the traditional listing, my predecessors.

**My predecessors, most recently J. Robert King, David Blackington, Robert Streckfuss and Alan Hamant. Some of you I know, some of you I’ve never met.  But because of YOU I have been able to do what I have done at UD.  Each of you has carved part of the path, ultimately passing the keys for the bulldozer to your successor, just as I will do one day.  The path before me is unpaved, raw, and in some ways, unknown.  The bulldozer, however sits idling on a paved surface–you have to remember to look BEHIND you to see the paved road others created before you took over the controls.

So often people begin a new position (just as I did 18 years ago) and approach it from a position of “the world begins with me.”  This is NOT true.  No matter how hard one tries to deny the past, what came before you DID exist. You cannot erase it–ever.  All you are going to do is leave YOUR mark next to the marks that everyone who came before left.  Your mark will not wipe away anything–to think so is foolish.  Your mark is added to the picture, just another imprint on the “life” of whatever it is you’re part of.  Some marks will be big and loud. Some marks will be soft and small.  Regardless of which yours is, it is a mere part of the whole that others will add to long after you have moved on.

So to all those who came before me, thank you.  Thank you for what YOU created. Had you not paved the path before me I wouldn’t have been able to even GET to the bulldozer, let alone carry on all you did.

Sometimes it takes a smack upside the head with a two X four to get my attention.  Sometimes that two X four has to have a giant spike at the end of it too.  But other times it is not as simple as that.  Other times it is a subtle, gentle reminder that overtakes your mind while driving your car down a dark country road on a warm summer night.  It is that type of smack that is perhaps the most powerful of all.

As I spend the summer on the road teaching for the George N. Parks Drum Major Academy® I have had a few moments questioning how long I can keep doing this.  My left knee is in constant pain and always swollen despite meds and ice / elevation.  Yes it had only been 5 months since surgery and it is only now that my right knee is feeling normal after two YEARS post-op….but it is the limitations I have been experiencing physically that have made me question my longevity.  Is it truly conceivable that I can keep this up “forever?”

The other day I had the privilege of doing an interview with Larry Nagengast from Delaware’s magazine “Out & About” (article coming out in the September issue) about my FIRST 18 years here at UD.  Frankly I told him far more than I should have because, well….he’s a former UDMB Band Parent, and in truth, there really are no secrets in this business.  biggrin.  We talked about how I got to UD, where I was before I got here, the evolution of the program, how we keep it going year after year, and then an interesting turn: we talked about legacy.

Last year, after the passing of my dear friend George Parks, that word, legacy, made it’s first appearance as part of my regular vocabulary.  “A gift that one leaves behind that becomes a responsibility to pass on to others.”  This is what I told all the students who attended the George N. Parks Drum Major Academy® workshops last summer, and I continue to tell them the same thing this summer…but there’s a new part to it now.  Legacy is about “knowing where you came from to know where you’re going.”  I have always believed this.  One’s journey is defined by one’s past.  The path set before us is unknown, and while we do not know what we will encounter along the way, our past has already created the foundation upon which we will construct our future.  It is not emptiness we stand before, but rather a partially built highway that we will complete as we press forward.

This past spring a dear colleague came up to me following the Symphonic Band concert.  She was clearly moved by the group’s performance, as was I.  Her words will always resonate with me for I believe she was right–it was during that concert that I learned how to fly again.  She said, and I paraphrase: “You’ve been through so much these last two years and all of it was in that concert, so much emotion.  But the last piece, THAT was when Heidi started to come back.”  You were right Eileen–that was the defining moment of me remembering how to fly, and I will always be grateful that you noticed….for it takes someone who has walked along the same path, who has faced the same challenges life brings, to truly understand another person’s world.

Over the years I would say to George that I didn’t know how much longer I would teach DMA.  He would always say, “Heidi, you’ll always do one more.” And we, of course, laughed.  …and he, as usual, was always right: I always found a way to “do one more.”  But this summer has taken its toll already as I struggle to stand up each morning.  And yes, I know the knee will heal and it will be FINE, but it has made me question the future.  Which brings me back to that dark country road on a warm summer evening….

The morning prior to the interview with Mr. Nagengast I was talking with Jeanne Parks about the future of DMA.  As with all things, staff will come and staff will go and we are, indeed, developing new people to “step up” and take on more responsibilities, etc.  And I added myself to the list of staff who will one day step away.  It made sense–this is a young person’s job.  I’m not old…I won’t EVER get old (Thank you for teaching me that one “Jeep.”) but as with all things one needs to let new life flourish.

But then something happened…it was subtle, it was soft but it focused all of my thoughts on one thing, and only one thing.  While driving down Fox Den Road in Pike Creek, DE…a road that has always reminded me of the back entrance to Buc Field in Reading, PA, I could think of nothing else except this:  “No. this is what I am supposed to be doing.  I love teaching DMA–not because I am obligated to do it now that George is gone, but because I love to do it.  There is so much more to do, so much more to teach.  Just like the UDMB, it is a part of who I am.  For others there may come a time to step away, but for me, no.  I am supposed to finish this, but more importantly, I want to finish it.  Time to fly.”

Perhaps I was finally listening to my heart reminding me of who I am and what I’m meant to do, or perhaps it was a little leprechaun wearing Buccaneer blue sitting on my shoulder whispering in my ear–who’s to say.  Whatever it was, at that moment on that warm summer evening of July 2012 I remembered the magic of Peter Pan and the why of it all.

Hey Neverland, it’s good to be home.

–tink

Here I sit on my first weekend “off” since I’m honestly not sure when and my mind started to wander through the memories of my years in the Reading Buccaneers.  1983 – 1990.  Not the best ones for the corps by any stretch of the imagination, but for me they are cherished times that I would never have wanted to play out in any other manner.   …except maybe that 2nd place in ’84 and 2nd place in ’85.  🙂

The corps was not very strong in my rookie year but what did I know, I was a rookie!  It was not Matt Krempasky who kept me going, nor, ironically enough, neither was it George N. Parks who kept the fire first burning in me.  It was a baritone player by the name of Chuck Runkle who may have taught me my greatest lesson:  always believe.  No matter what the situation is, give 100% all the time and ALWAYS BELIEVE.  You see every weekend I would arrive at Buc Field and Chuck would look at me, smile and say, “Heidi, we’re gonna win!”

We did not win of course, we placed 5th that year, but it was one heck of a hornline and one heck of recording!  I never gave up and Reading became part of who I was and will always be as long as I walk this earth….or longer, who knows.

1984 & 1985 were also difficult–we did not always believe we would win…and yet those corps were in position to win!  We did not believe it until it was too late and that’s how you lose by 0.45 and 0.65.  Those corps were great however–we just questioned ourselves too much.

1986–a good year, but the slide began.  We didn’t win in ’84 or ’85 and more and more people stopped believing.  1987–perhaps dreadful is the word that scratches the surface.  17 horns at the first winter rehearsal (I thought George was going to cry the whole way home).  He wrote a 4 page letter to every corps alumni that winter trying harder than anyone I had ever seen to get people to believe again, to come back for his final season as drum major and join him in one last epic voyage….it didn’t work.  People had stopped believing.  I do not remember where we placed that year but it was not very high.

1988 & 1989:  George had retired, I joined Darrell Weyman’s side as DM and the corps was not much better than death.  Would we fold?  Would it all end with me at the helm?  No…but it was the hardest job I’ve ever had.  To salvage a ship that is listing in the open waters is difficult by any stretch of the imagination.  Yet somehow we did and Reading survived.

1990, my final voyage: “Batman” – what a year!  We didn’t win but we were a corps who started to believe again.  I was happy to retire after that only because I knew the future looked bright so I could move on.

It took from 1990 until 2005 for the corps to completely believe again.  And that belief in who they are, what they do, and WHY they do it is very strong.  And now, to be looking at a 7th championship in row (2005-2011) is almost unfathomable to most but not to me.  For thanks to people like Chuck Runkle and George Parks, while there may be times when I question my beliefs, I will never truly ever stop believing!

Bring it home Reading—bring it home for yourselves, for those of us who wish we could still be on the sea of green with you, and for those of us who are sailing another sea on the other side.

There be a silent ship approaching that the living eye cannot see. The ship contains a crew of unmatched force, unmatched energy, & unprecedented power. The crew is more talented than any living corps. The captain of this ship dons wild red hair & a scraggly beard. His sword is a mace & he stands on the bridge at full sail. His orders are to hoist the Jolly Roger &d sail toward DCA on the winds of time.

The ghosts of our past will be “fighting” side by side w/my brothers & sisters this weekend. They be proud of ye! We’re all good men….

–heidi