Posts Tagged ‘heidi sarver’

We see everything from our own perspective first. If you are like me you also take a moment to view things through the eyes of your “audience.” It is this perspective that can be the most revealing…if you allow it to be.

I am a very lucky person. Some would say blessed, others would say successful or fortuitous. My humble hat has always been glued to my head…frankly, at this point it is difficult to tell where the hat ends and my head begins. I have always put the band, DMA, whatever, first, and me second. It’s just how I am. Perhaps it is my deep rooted insecurity, or heck, maybe I’m just too pessimistic to enjoy the “NOW.” <oh, you didn’t know those two things about me — insecurity and pessimism — did you?! …oops.> Whatever it is, it is who I am: others first, me second.

This past Friday, however, I did something I have never done before–I pursued “rubbing elbows” with a celebrity. I actually got myself right up against the metal barricade in front of my students, had my phone camera “at the ready,” and was not going to miss getting a selfie with Joe Biden!  Nope. This time I was going to swallow my fears, be selfish, and GET THAT PICTURE!

But I skipped a lot so allow me to backtrack…..

Joe Biden, former Vice President of the United States of America, is also an alum of the University of Delaware. I have had the privilege of meeting him before: 2 football games (one in which I was able to chat with him for 15 seconds at the conclusion of Band Day halftime) and 1 basketball game that resulted in my taking a photo of him with the UD Pep Band. At the same time, perhaps more importantly, when I was able to meet and speak with his son, Beau.

I thought it odd at the basketball game when he came up behind me, gave me a hug and kiss and said, “Heidi, the band is always fantastic!” Odd because how on earth would Joe Biden know my name??? I brushed the thought aside immediately because the answer was obvious: someone told him my name prior to him coming over to the band. Still, it was overwhelming to say the least!

Back in January I was asked to put the band back together for a welcome back rally of sorts at the Wilmington Riverfront. He and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, took the train home from Washington, D.C. one final time after the 2017 Inauguration Ceremony. Between undergrads and alumni we were able to get over 200 bandos at the event.  It was one of those “positively life-changing” experiences that folks would not have had if not for band! When I was asked to scrape together what I could for the public announcement of the new Biden Institute at UD I knew I had to make it happen.

100 UDMB members stood on the The Green behind Memorial Hall on a gray, cold, raw Friday at noon. “Delaware Forever” and the “Fight Song” echoed up and down the grassy expanse, sound bouncing off the Georgian brick buildings. Over 2000 students were in attendance–all yelling “Biden Is Back.” It was a great event to usher in the new initiative at UD and in many ways, excite the student body about getting “off your rear and making a difference in the world!” <Biden’s words, not mine.> The air was electric despite the November-like conditions in April. The event concluded with another round of the “Fight Song” and then I saw it–I saw the way The Man exited the stage….and I was all over it!

I seconded guessed myself a few times, thinking, “Let the kids get up there.” “You look like a fool trying to get a selfie with him.” “Why do you even want to do this?!” Finally I shut the voice down. Screw it. Be one of the masses. He doesn’t know you, he doesn’t care. It’s part of the political game.

Secret Service — WOW! Those boys are serious dudes! My hands were freezing and I kept switching the phone between them and shoving the free hand inside my coat pocket….and I was being watched like a hawk! Again I pushed the thoughts of backing away from my mind. He was three people to my left, it’s now or never……..

I extended my right hand has he approached….he looked at my hand and began to reach for it…he looked up with that Joe Biden smile, you know, that million dollar smile we’ve seen for decades…we made eye contact…. and his entire face changed from one of political persona to one of “Hey! I know this person!”

The next minute was one of him going on and on and on about the band, about the program I continue to provide, about making sure I was not going to stop doing what I was doing.

I stood there with a big, stupid smile on my face saying ‘thank you’ and ‘ok’ and ‘yes sir’ because I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT TO DO! All I wanted was a selfie with Joe Biden and I got pulled into a freaking bear hug!

I’m still overwhelmed by the entire moment. I was at an event with a man known around the globe–a man who has done more with his life than I can even begin to fathom–and HE pulls ME into a hug after going on and on about me and the UDMB!

Perspective. Starred Thought: “You will never know the impact you have upon another person.” Perspective.

…I still haven’t gotten a selfie with @JoeBiden though…

17793378_1329631297130673_2050788697_n (1)

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…

I already got this:

Unicompartmental Left Knee replacement of medial compartment

Unicompartmental Left Knee replacement of medial compartment

In 14 days I will have this:


This morning I was ready to get it done NOW.  I want to be on the other side of this and start getting better–the rehab uphill climb I know all too well.  But as of this moment I am going to just say it—I’M PETRIFIED. I know I’ll be fine. I’ve had too many surgeons and hip replacement recipients tell me that it’s so much easier than what I went through with my knee. But you know what? THAT DOESN’T MEAN A DAMN THING AT THIS POINT IN TIME! The thought of going under the knife yet again has got me wound up tighter than piano string on the verge of snapping. And frankly I’m not all that sure why.

I don’t mean to bitch and moan about it–I truly don’t.  I’m surrounded by wonderful friends who have everything figured out with regard to getting home, caring for me until I’m ready to be on my own again, and carting me around until I’m permitted to drive.  I couldn’t have a better surgeon nor could I have a better support network. But this evening…for whatever reason…”the shit got real.”

I’ve mentioned a few times to close friends that I honestly do not remember a time when I wasn’t in some sort of pain.  I think it was around 2000 but hard to tell–I had been lifting mom’s wheelchair in and out of the trunk of my car for over 10 years at that point so my back, hips and knees were already giving me fits.  But somewhere during 2007 was when I realized I was always in some sort of pain.  And I’m so damn tired of it.

So I guess I’m pulling a #4…something that goes against the very fiber of my soul. Sure, I’ve been living #2 (Accepting it) for the last however many years, and in 14 days I’ll jump up a notch to #1 (Changing it).  #3 is of course, not an option (Quit). So forgive me for dumping in a public forum…I just want December 3rd to get here already so I can wake up in the Recovery Room and say, “Ok, let’s start getting better–NOW!”

I know very little about this particular mission—all briefings have been kept top secret and all documents have been designated as “Classified.”  I know only my part in the mission, only what is expected of me, and can only speculate upon what I will encounter.  To that end however I was given a task…one simple task: create a theme song fitting of such an intense mission…and I have done so.

I give you the Theme to “Operation: Robo Sarv”

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.

UDMB @ BoA Newark, PA Regional

UDMB @ BoA Newark, PA Regional

There was a man who once said, “I love watching lots of people doing great things.”  This man was correct as there is perhaps nothing more rewarding than a group of individuals working together toward a common goal.  In this case we are talking about over 400 people (330 in the UDMB and another 70+ volunteers–parents, friends, colleagues) working 3-4 hour shifts, doing a wide variety of jobs from ticket sales, program selling, tshirt pressing, moving high school bands around the athletic complex, greeting band directors, and setup / cleanup….all for one purpose: creating an experience OTHERS will remember for a lifetime.

The world we live in is one of selfishness. We are products of a society whose mantra is “What’s in it for me?”  This is an extraordinary narrow life view.  The humanity has been beaten out of us to such a degree that people no longer have the ability to communicate with another member of the species unless it is via an electronic device.  Social interaction is the newest phobia.  And yet yesterday I watched my students go out of their way for each other as they went beyond and above the call of duty for thousands of strangers.

26 high school bands were in our “house.” They came to us from as far north as Connecticut to as far south as Georgia.  They brought parents, friends, siblings, extended family members.  Community members from Newark, Delaware were there as well. Family and friends of the UDMB too.  Thousands of people passed through the gates of UD stadium and spent the day relishing the talents of over 3000 musicians and performers–who gave their all in the spirit of competition, education, and growth.

Bands of America came to UD for their Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship.  UD and the UDMB were their hosts.  The day began at 5:45 am and ended at 11:45 pm. The UDMB performed twice in exhibition–once at the conclusion of prelims and again at the conclusion of finals.  …and yes, the band grabbed the audience by the throat and said, “You will love us.”  …and they did.

I could write for pages about all the incredible moments woven within the fabric of those 18 hours but it is not necessary.  I will simply state in print what I said to the members of the UDMB last night at the conclusion of their last performance:

I have never been more proud of this band as I am today.

…there were, of course, many shenanigans taking place throughout the day as well…I leave you with an image of my transportation for the day. Decorations were courtesy of my professional staff….

Sarv's Ride

Sarv’s Ride