Posts Tagged ‘gnp’

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.

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.

…but not about what you may think.

Sure, I’ve got tons of memories racing through my head about the last 20 years here at UD.  But today I came across a post by Brian Balmages.  It contained a link to a YouTube video Roger Blackburn uploaded.  It was of the Philadelphia Brass Ensemble from 1969. This video clip brought back a flood of memories…so incredibly strong that I ended up breaking out the horn for about 30 minutes this afternoon.

Seeing Seymour Rosenfeld playing second trumpet…well that, coupled with the music on the clip–both tunes I have played an infinite amount of times–brought me back briefly to my days at Temple University, but most of all, to my days as a grad student at UMASS.  One day I was an undergraduate finishing my degree in music education and the next day I was a graduate student beginning my master’s in trumpet performance.  One of the main responsibilities: member of the Faculty Brass Quintet. Playing 2nd trumpet to Walter Chesnut, with Laura Klock on horn, David Sporny on trombone, and George Parks on tuba…..absolutely no pressure folks–NOT!  No room for error.  No excuse for not knowing every single note on your page better than you know your own name. My mantra: “Keep up with Mr C because he is going to push me and Laura will never forgive me….and George, he’ll help bandage my wounds on the walk to the parking lot.”

But there were very few wounds–it was perhaps the greatest lesson I ever had about responsibility, demand, commitment, and team work all rolled into one.  Two years of gigging with four of the greatest!  The Graduation folder—filled with all the standard brass quintet literature that we played at almost all commencements held at Amherst College, Mt. Holyoke, and Smith.  All of us piled in a van, Walter behind the wheel with George sound asleep next to me as I talked with Dave Sporny about who knows what.  Talk about a true “clown car!”

Music–one of the most powerful vehicles for memory and emotional stimulation. Listening to Gil Johnson and Seymour Rosenfeld and the rest of the PBE played Gabrieli’s “Canzona per Sonare No. 2” (a tune so many of us played together while in college) instantly transported me back to a time when, in many ways, life was simple.

So yes, I broke out the old trumpet.  I haven’t played since fall 2009. I expected nothing. I experienced the world.  Endurance is gone but tone, technique and flexibility–all present and accounted for.  As I played through some etudes (Bousquet and Vantelbosch) and literature (Kaminsky’s Concerto and Clark’s “The Southern Cross”….yes, I even landed the high Eb in the opening cadenza) I couldn’t help but hear Walter Chesnut saying “Air!” “Place that one IN the bell.” “Is that really the articulation?” “SING!”  …and all of those things so many of us heard in all our lessons were accompanied by the mental image of a man who would sit and beam when you played like an angel.

I took those days for granted…what I wouldn’t give to play “Die Banklesangleider” with them once again….

(left to right)  Laura Klock, George Parks, Jeff Holmes, Walter Chesnut, David Sporny

(left to right) Laura Klock, George Parks, Jeff Holmes, Walter Chesnut, David Sporny

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!)

There are things that happen for a reason.  When each event occurs rarely is one aware of the specific reason for the situation to unfold the way it does.  However, during the last four years I have become a little more aware of such moments, but only in the belief that there is a reason behind them.  I do not know what they ultimately mean, but I am aware that at some point I will come to fully understand why they occurred.

I do not mean to pull you along a metaphysical journey, nor one of spiritual belief.  That’s far too personal for me to EVER blog about.  What I will do, if you, the Reader, will indulge me, is to take you back to the fall of 1986 on the campus of UMASS/Amherst, where a young freshman mellophone player would eventually be the reason why the University of Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hen Marching Band has been as successful as it has been these last 20 years.

Before we use the Wayback Machine permit me to explain a bit more…

Lately I have been blathering on about “knowing where you came from,” “understanding your past so you can live for the future,” respecting and honoring those who came before,” etc. I have gone on and on about such topics because for me they are what gives our lives substance, purpose and meaning.  Without the past we have no idea where the future will take us.  Without the past we have no foundation upon which to stand. Without the past we are merely living for the moment with no support upon which to lean should we ever need it.  Without the past our existence would be very empty.

Each summer I spend 8 – 9 weeks on the road teaching workshops for the George N. Parks Drum Major Academy®.  I have done this for the last 30 summers.  Each workshop brings with it a chance to delve deeper into the “WHY” and the “HOW.”  I have been teaching the “WHAT” for so long that it is merely the vehicle I use in which to understand MORE.  With each workshop the material passes through a new filter in my mind.  The filter is new because life experiences change how you view things.

My dear friend Timmy (that would be Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser to everyone else), who is also one of three men I’ve chosen during my life to be my brother, likes to say it this way: “Sometimes someone says the same thing they’ve said for years but there is a new wrinkle that is ever so slight and it make me go A-HA!”

This summer was a major A-HA moment for me and why I choose to write this particular blog entry.

DMA is still DMA…even without George. While it continues to evolve just as it did workshop to workshop when George was still with us, some big ticket items remain in place.  One of those is the ATTITUDE SESSION.  Sure some stories have changed but remember, the stories have always been just the vehicles used to teach each lesson.  This summer I was in the middle of ATTITUDE at EKU in Richmond, Kentucky when I suddenly expanded upon a particular lesson.  The lesson was “There are four things you can do in an unpleasant situation,” and it was number 1 that sparked a new story for me — “#1: Change it.”

(Enter the Wayback Machine with me as we journey back to 1986….Band Camp with the UMMB.)

  • 1986 – 

A cocky graduate student (me) who decided to break all the rules and still be in marching band, is one of two people left on the field after a full band march off.  My opponent: a freshman mellophone player named Jennifer Boltz. She is just as cocky as I am and I would be damned if I let her beat me!  …but she did…so I suppose I’m damned.  …two words: Oh Well.

I do not remember much about Jennifer during 1986 – 1988.  I was working on my master’s in trumpet performance and she was an undergraduate music education major.  I’m sure she has her own tales to tell but my memories of college and time in the UMMB have long since faded with only snapshot images of moments that hold special meaning for me.  What I do recall is the spring of 1988 and Jennifer’s audition for Drum Major of the UMMB.  I do not recall the actual audition but I recall her getting the position…my position.  My successor had been named.

  • 1988 – 

George and I were having a fight as usual (someone hold Trish Cornett please) and we were not speaking.  At some point mid-fall Jeanne Parks called me and asked when I planned to come up and see the band. I told her I had no intention of doing so. In short, she said she thought the two of us (George and I) were being idiots and that I needed to get past that and come up to see the band–it was amazing!  So I did…I drove up despite not speaking to my best friend and when the UMMB finished the opening fanfare of “Festive Overture” I had been reduced to tears!  They were amazing.  They were big and they were powerful, and I was shocked and simultaneously amazed at how impressive they were.  And there was that mellophone player on the podium: Jennifer Boltz.

  • 1989 –

Time for me to write for the UMMB again…and they were BIG!  Well over 300 members….what does one do with all those dots?!?!  Jennifer was back on the podium again.  This, of course, meant nothing to me. I was happy she was being successful and I hoped she was enjoying it as much as I did.  That was about it.  The band was incredible…I was a high school band director (first professional goal achieved)…George and I were speaking again (whoever is holding Trish may now let go). But a question lingered in my mind for the next few years: how did the band get so big so fast when it was stuck in the low 200s for so many, many years?

  • (Fast forward to 1993….”Building Power and Class”)

A documentary was made about the UMASS Minuteman Marching Band and there is a moment when filming is done in the McGuirk Stadium Pressbox of the Boltz sisters.  Jennifer is there and she talks about changing how the band welcomes the freshmen.  She talks about how when she was a freshman she did not feel very welcomed. She talks about the “suitcase thing” and how it was not any big deal but that because it WELCOMED the incoming band members in such a positive way, the band enrollment went from 200 to 300+ overnight.

“There are four things you can do in an unpleasant situation.  #1 – Change It.”  And Jennifer did just that the summer of 1988 for the UMMB.  The field staff was hanging out in the staff room of Old Chapel and just getting into trouble.  She thought if they would go unload the cars of the rookies during check in she could get them out of Old Chapel and they would be doing something positive for the band.  This simple, no nonsense, “fix the immediate problem” idea began a snowball effect that I am quite sure Jennifer had no idea would occur.  The freshmen were welcomed into the band…upperclassmen moved each one of them into their dorms for band camp and the freshmen felt wanted and needed. And BAM! The Minuteman Marching Band of UMASS became HUGE!

  • (Fast Forward to 1995…on the campus of the University of Delaware)

A new band director (me) gets appointed to the UDMB and the task before me is a little overwhelming.  Fortunately the majority of the senior class is hungry, perhaps they are ravenous for something new.  After teaching high school for a few years and being the Associate Director of Bands at Temple University for a few years, and spending my summers playing Tonto to George’s Lone Ranger, I knew enough to be completely and totally petrified at the prospect of being the head band director of a major university marching band.  Fortunately I also had learned that one makes small changes and takes their time molding a program into their vision (a vision that changes as much as the DMA “WHY” changes workshop to workshop!).

The first thing I instituted was “the suitcase thing.”  The Field Staff would move the rookies into their dorms; the Field Staff would do so with a smile on their faces; the Field Staff would love it…period.  In 1995 the UDMB numbered 147 members.  In 1998 the UDMB numbered 300 members.  Since 1998 the UDMB has had an annual average membership of 320.

All of this is due to a young mellophone player turned Drum Major of the University of Massachusetts Minuteman Marching Band named Jennifer Boltz.

Thank you Jen.  A momentary blip on the radar screen of reason allowed me to connect all the dots for the first time this summer.  If you had not done what you did I would not be where I am today.  You are now a DMA story…George would be proud!

And so we come full circle my friends: everything happens for a reason.  We may not know the reason at the time but if we are patient, one day the reason will be revealed.

(…I suppose I could have just said thank you at the start of this missive, but when have I ever not taken advantage of telling a story in order to teach a lesson?!  So get ready to move those rookies into their dorms UDMB FIELD STAFF–time to make the BAND!)

This past July I sat in a restaurant with two friends and one, Linda Hannum, described the experience her son had when he was a volunteer in Haiti.  To say it was extraordinary barely scratches the surface. During the conversation Linda said that one can never truly grasp what those people are going through and she added the statement that is the title of this post.  The Myth Of A Shared Reality.   The use of this phrase was in context with the topic of her son’s trip to Haiti and how people from such drastically different lives/worlds can interact but never truly understand what the other person’s life has been/is. My memory is foggy at this point as to who was responsible for coining the phrase but needless to say it struck a very loud chord with me.

We’ve all heard it before, philosophical phrases such as “Never criticize a man until you walk a mile in his moccasins.” There are hundreds of derivatives of this phrase, all essentially warning one about the dangers of passing judgment upon another person.  But the myth of a shared reality seems to resonate deeper than all the other philosophies.  It suggests, or perhaps it flat out states, that the idea of one person truly understanding the reality of another person is not possible at all.

Every person lives their own life.  Oh sure every person’s family and friends work diligently to help shape it and guide it but when you get right down to it every life is solitary and unique.

My relationships with my family and friends are mine and mine alone.  And yet my family and friends interact with other people differently than they interact with me–because my reality is mine and their’s is theirs.  As an example, just because a bunch of us may have been in the same college marching band does not mean that we all had the EXACT SAME experience.  If there were 240 people in the band then there were 240 SEPARATE realities of the EXACT SAME memory. (Go on, work on that for a while and see if your brain doesn’t start to overload.)  Let’s get more specific and look at a singular event.

In the fall of 1987 the University of Massachusetts Minuteman Marching Band traveled to the University of Delaware for a football game.  My experience during that game became my reality but it was not the same reality for anyone else.  Yes we were all in the same place at the same time…but were we?  Not literally.  I was on a podium while the vast majority of folks were on the field.  Each of us had different responsibilities–albeit some were similar person to person but ultimately they were all different in some manner. Thus, our realities were different even though we were participating in the same event.

Now here’s where it gets just a little cray-cray…..who is to say one reality is more real than another?

My experience that day in Delaware Stadium was no better and no worse than anyone else’s, but it was, different.  It was not more real for me than it was for anyone else. If you took the three drum majors of the UMMB that day (me, Rob Hammerton and Chris Gardiner), sat us down and asked us to recall the postgame performance you would get three completely different accounts with interjections of “Oh yeah!” from one of the other two people.  What was important to me was not necessarily as important to them.  What was the most vivid memory for me was not necessarily the most vivid memory for them.  And yet we were all there at the same time in theory.

In a few days the third anniversary of the passing of my dearest friend will arrive.  It will arrive with no pomp nor circumstance.  It will simply be another day on the calendar.  It will, however, be marked by thousands of people as they take a moment out of their day to remember a man who had a most profound impact upon every single person he ever encountered.  Let me repeat that: EVERY SINGLE PERSON.  I do not exaggerate and those who truly knew George N. Parks will agree with me.  And every person, every single person will tell you without the slightest hesitation that this man was their best friend; that they were, in their reality, his best friend.  And you know, for the most part, they are ALL correct.  Why? Because this man had the ability to make every single person he met feel as if they were the center of the universe.  This goes for someone he met for just a moment as well as someone he knew for 27 years.  This was a unique gift and those who crossed paths with him during his life and now have their eyes open realize how lucky they were to have been able to share in part of his reality.

My reality is not shared with anyone–it’s mine.  I travel this world alone as does every other person–we share it with people who come in and out of our lives but ultimately each person is on an individual journey.  My best friend (for he was that in my reality) George, inherently knew this.  And he lived his life accordingly.  I, for one, will continue to strive to be more of what he was: a person who never self-proclaimed his reality as the most important but rather a person who shared in the lives of others hoping together they could make a difference.

 

 

…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.