Posts Tagged ‘impact’

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

I was driving home after morning block rehearsal at band camp just now listening to NPR.  An interview with M.K. Asante was on and I was instantly intrigued.  He was speaking about his new book “Buck – A Memoir” — essentially his life story.  It is not a pretty story–it is a POWERFUL story.  And yes, I purchased it for my Kindle and will begin my journey through it’s “pages” over the weekend.

What resonated with me so quickly was not just the material (teenager growing up in Philly, etc.) but the life lessons he experienced to go from the streets of Philly to becoming a tenured professor at Morgan State University.  The portion of the interview I caught was focused around life’s lessons and how they are everywhere if you just open yourself up and step outside your comfort zone (sound familiar?).  The two main points I heard were:

1) He had no use for school.  A teacher put a blank piece of paper in front of him and said, “Write.”  He didn’t want to do the assignment–he wanted to get thrown out of class, so he wrote “F— School.”  The teacher looked at his paper and said, “Write more.”

This was THE defining moment in his life.  (You never know the impact you will have upon another person.  Even the simplest thing can change a person’s life forever….in a good way or a bad way.)  As you can imagine, I was hooked!

The second thing he said was about learning from everything thing, even from people you would never think could teach you something:

2) “A bum on the street asked me if I knew what “soul” was.  I said, “You mean like Soul Train?” He said, “No. Soul is the graceful survival against impossible circumstances.”

Wow.  That was all I could think.  We are so quick to discount people because of outward appearances, physical looks, etc.  Everyone and everything is here for us to learn from and yet we do not open ourselves enough to take in all of our world.

Much to think about……and must return to band camp…and much to write about band camp too.

As we head into our fifth home game of the season here at the University of Delaware I have mixed feelings about things.  They are personal yet they revolve around the profession I am so proud to be part of.  UD plays UMASS in football tomorrow and for the first time since the 1990’s the UMASS Minuteman Marching Band will not be in attendance.

WHAT?! you say.  It’s true.  And it’s not for any reason short of budget concerns.  The UDMB faced the same thing last year when we were unable to travel to the northland.  The economy is taking it’s toll on college marching bands all over the country.  The cost to move 300 people for just ONE day can be upwards of $15,000.  An overnight trip can run as high as $25,000.  Remember–you have to feed them too!  It’s expensive, period.

When I spoke with the new band director of the UMMB about coming down and learned that they would not be making the journey I have to admit to disappointment.  This was our sister band. George and I, Thom and Jim, Rah and Fred worked for years to cultivate the relationship between the programs–we would be the unique ones in the country: two college rival football programs whose bands were closer than siblings.  (Well OF COURSE the students would be–all the directors were!)  It did not take long for this relationship to not only develop, but THRIVE.  Let’s face it, have you ever heard of two other college marching bands, their parents and their alumni all traveling to Ireland to perform in two New Year’s events as ONE organization?!

I was looking forward to celebrating the UMASS departure from the FCS to Division 1.  I was looking forward to being host to my old friends Thom Hannum, Colin McNutt, John Leonard, and a host of others.  I was looking forward to showing the new director Tim Anderson our Delaware hospitality and wishing him well as he begins his journey down the road that George Parks left so abruptly.  So I was disappointed.

And yet after thinking about it I came to the conclusion that, once again, things happen for a reason.  In this case a very selfish reason.  The last time the UMMB was in our house was 2009.  The two groups joined together for a massed band performance of “America, the Beautiful” and “My Man.”  George and I got to enjoy being “kids” again–we were able to go back to the way we were when we first met in the Buccaneers:  George on the podium and me playing solo trumpet.  And for a brief moment in time, we WERE kids again.  The two staffs were arm in arm during “My Way” and “In My Life” as were  the two bands.  Swaying and singing together as ONE organization.  …and yes, the UMMB tubas “forked” the front lawn of my house with “UM hearts UD.”  And it was all good and it was as it should have been.

So my mixed feelings are between personal and professional.  My professional side would have liked to play host to my alma mater one last time; my personal side is content with the fact that the relationship between the programs ended as it was meant to in 2009.  And those memories will be cherished by all those who were part of our 16 year relationship–one that I do not believe exists anywhere else in the country.

Will the relationship continue?  That remains to be seen–perhaps yes, perhaps no.  Changes–they happen.

“I love watching lots of people doing great things.”  This statement, made by George N. Parks in the documentary Building Power And Class is one that speaks to me on a variety of levels.  Levels that are surface based and levels that reach to the depths of my core that in some ways I struggle with the ability to clearly articulate to others…but I will try. Let us start with the surface of it all.

A group of people working collectively on the same project, pursuing the same goal and all focused on a positive outcome for their efforts is a wonderful experience in which to partake.  Whether it is three people working side by side to assist with cleaning up a person’s basement that was negatively impacted by Hurricane Irene or 320 people rehearsing tirelessly in order to perform an energetic, enthusiastic, exciting, excellent and “en”-tense halftime show for 20,000 people, the process is as important as the outcome for both. Both examples require an organized approach and a commitment to “hard labor.”  Both outcomes result in a feeling of satisfaction in having achieved the goal.  Granted a rockin’ halftime show is much more fun than a dry basement, but a successful outcome leaves one with a strong sense of accomplishment regardless of the task.

The UDMB faced natural disaster after natural disaster at the start of this year’s season.  There was every reason for the band NOT to be prepared by the second football game let alone the first one.  That of course did not happen because of the commitment and dedication of the students and staff. While the surface explanation of the statement is met by these incredible young men and women during every rehearsal and performance, it is the deeper description that leaves a lasting impact upon everyone who comes in contact with the ensemble.

As I sat in the stands last night during the post game performances by both the DSUMB and UDMB I, or course, watched the bands.  But I also chose to watch the audience.  As DSU performed I watched DSU and UD fans alike stand up and dance in the stands.  And of course, the UDMB was rockin’ it on the sideline.  Then it was the UDMB’s turn and again, DSU and UD fans were both clapping along and going crazy by the end of the show.

The deeper meaning of the opening statement of this post is knowing that something as superficial as a marching band show has a lasting impact upon the lives of thousands.  “Lots of people doing great things” such as bringing a smile to someone’s face and pulling that person “into” the show so they too may share in an experience that focuses “simply upon being in the moment” is a PRIVILEGE–one that I am proud to say I am part of creating.  To bring joy to people lives, to help them put aside their troubles for 30 minutes, to see them smile, clap, and dance—that is being part of something “bigger” than yourself.