Posts Tagged ‘del state marching band’

I learned a simple lesson a long time ago from my parents: if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.  I, like most people in society these days, struggle with this.  We like to complain–actually I believe we tend to relish it at times.  We “believe” it puts us on a higher level than the people causing what it is we are complaining about.  We are, of course, merely lowering ourselves to their level when we do this–the complete opposite of what it is we are hoping to accomplish.

I am not talking about ignoring situations that need to be addressed, nor am I saying that all complaining is inappropriate and we should just roll over and take whatever the world hands us.  I’m saying there are times to complain and times to simply stand up tall, smile knowing that you have a different set of standards that you are most proud of, and to perhaps, turn the other cheek.  Again, it all depends upon the situation.

I learned another lesson, along the same premise of the one my parents taught me, from my dearest friend who departed this world far too soon.  He taught me (and many others) to always have class in everything we do.  We may not understand everything about a certain situation and to act in a classless manner only exacerbates things. He taught me there are always two sides to every story; to take time to examine a situation from all angles; to remember that the actions of one represent the views of the whole.  (And for the most part to remember never to throw cheese cubes….but that’s a story for another day.)

Yesterday’s game against Del State was one for the record books.  A beautiful morning, a cloud covered afternoon rehearsal (how one gets the worst sunburn of their life during the overcast part of a day I will never know), and an early evening of what could have been sheer chaos–and was anything but!   Each day I wake up knowing I have the greatest job in the world–I have the PRIVILEGE to represent the UDMB as its director.  A group comprised of over 300 college students every fall that could get themselves into a world of trouble quicker than you blink.  A group of 18-22 year olds who are living the dream: four years to learn the first steps to what it takes to be an adult while simultaneously acting like a bunch of 6 year olds.  (Oh what I wouldn’t give to go back and be where they are again!)

At the conclusion of yesterday’s rehearsal I explained to the band what they needed to do if the stadium were to be evacuated.  I explained they exit the stands carefully, enter the basketball arena and sit in the stands to await further instructions.  Simple enough….one hopes.

Game day began—with the new location of the President’s Tent I am still working out a timeline that allows the band to play the Fight Song at various locations around the stadium grounds (patience fans, please). The band’s performance at the new Hospitality Village was strong (more bugs to work out with this new location too).  An unexpected interruption in the performance and a blocked exit location made for the band’s first challenge of the day–and they handled it magnanimously.  They finished their “gig,” listened to instructions and proudly went about resetting the block in another location.  Not  a single person said a word–THAT’S CLASS!

Halftime: DSU started their performance with the UDMB standing respectfully around the perimeter of the field as they always do during another band’s show, anticipating their first opportunity to be the best audience their guests have ever seen.  30 seconds later–EVACUATE THE STADIUM IMMEDIATELY.  I pointed to our drum majors and pointed to the arena.  They nodded, turned and instantly the band began to calmly exit the field/stadium and enter the arena.  I asked DSU’s band to follow them as they were unsure what to do next and it proved to be the perfect solution to their situation.

After 20 minutes, perhaps more, content that everything was taken care of with regard to student safety and equipment organization, I entered the arena myself.  I had no idea what I was going to find, and I expected to be confronted with all sorts of problems, negative reactions, and yes, chaos.  Why? Simple–the band was on their own inside the arena during a volleyball tournament along with a few thousand football fans while the staff and I were outside “securing the perimeter.”  But what I found was quite the opposite…..and it was at this moment I have never been more proud of any group I have ever had the PRIVILEGE to work FOR!

Remember, the instructions were simply to exit the field and go into the stands in the arena.  Nothing more.  I got to the top of the arena concourse, closed my eyes, took a deep breath and opened my eyes expecting to find band members everywhere…..and I didn’t.  I looked out into the arena and found the entire UDMB sitting in the center section of the arena cheering on Columbia University (they were in blue so it seemed appropriate) against Texas A&M. The band members were in FULL UNIFORM, shakos at their feet, instruments in their laps and all sitting together.  No one told them to do this; no one told them how to act; no one told them where to sit; no one told them anything expect to “go into the arena and sit in the stands.”

I could go on and on about the rest of the evening, the percussion concert in the lobby between volleyball matches, the volunteer brass players who cheered on the team in the pouring rain, the quiet departure of band members with parents or when the buses came to pick them up, etc.  But I do not believe it is necessary–you get the idea.

Class, dignity and respect—the pride of Delaware, the University of Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hen Marching Band.  …not much more to say, just proud to be a Blue Hen.

photo courtesy of Chris McCauley Ohannessian

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.”

The Route 1 Rivalry has begun and with it a new relationship with a new college band: Del State. We have had bands come in and out of Delaware Stadium for years and the most important part for me is to get the students to appreciate each other’s efforts, and embrace each other’s differences. Del State fit right in line with all the other groups we have hosted,

Haltime was easy–we had chatted a few times prior to the game in order to make sure we had the timing correct so that there would be no concern about when one band as finished and the other would start. In fact, the timing was so tight we were about 30 seconds UNDER time–something almost unheard of! This is a credit to the DSU leadership!

There is no question that DSU knows how to entertain–they did a fantastic job and it was a treat to see the UDMB dancing on the sideline during their post game performance!

Here’s to the next part of the rivalry–a football rivalry but a band co-existence.

PS. The DSU band received a call in the middle of the UDMB post game performance that forced them to depart prior to our completion. This is not unusual and was completely understood by our band. We hope the fans understand they were not being disrespectful with the early exit.