Posts Tagged ‘love’

I loathe the end of the school year. I cannot stand goodbyes. It has gotten to the point that I don’t even go to commencement because I do not trust that I won’t break down into tears. Frankly, I hate endings. There is, however, one moment I relish even less:

Student Staff Leadership Announcement Day

The students wait with baited breath for the Facebook post to hit. They get worked up, filled with anxiety, desperate for the results of auditions and interviews. I, however, sit and stare at the list for days on end. No matter what I do I am going to disappoint some of my students. Some will take a deep breath when they don’t see their name on the list and are ok. Some will become so angry they will throw a chair through a glass door (yes, this happened once). Some will be furious with me – they think I hate them, or at the very least, don’t like them. Some will quit band altogether.

  • I sit and stare at the list of names knowing that I cannot give leadership positions out just because a student is a senior and I want to do something nice for them before they graduate.
  • I sit and stare at the list of names knowing I must be a teacher and do what I think is in the best interest of each student applicant.
  • I sit and stare at the list of names knowing that if my students don’t learn what it is to not get something they want while still in college they may NEVER learn that hard lesson.
  • I sit and stare…and stare…at the equivalent of a surgical waterproof bandage placed over a wound that must be removed after 7-10 days. A bandage that has almost become one with the skin. You want to rip it off fast like a bandaid but you can’t. If you do you run the risk of tearing the skin and ripping the wound open. So you proceed gingerly and carefully and slowly….and the agony lasts “forever.” Finally it’s off and all you can do is sit back and hope for the best.

Ladies and gentlemen: being in band is not, has never been, and will never be about securing and holding a leadership title. Sure it’s cool. Sure it means you have a chance to practice teaching. Sure it means you’ve been given responsibilities. Sure it means you can have an impact on the program.  But you can do all those things WITHOUT A TITLE!!

  • Being a member in your band means setting an example for others. You don’t need a title to do that.
  • Being a member in your band means helping the person next to you, teaching the person next to you. You don’t need a title to do that.
  • Being a member in your band means being responsible for knowing your music and drill. You don’t need a title to do that.
  • Being a member in your band means having an impact on other members, your institution, and every person who ever sees the program. You don’t need a title to do that.
  • Being a member in your band is cool in and of itself — and don’t let anyone ever tell you any differently! (…and you don’t need a title to do that.)

Sometimes being a leader is harder than usual…and this is one of those times.

Congratulations to all who received positions on the 2017 UDMB Leadership Staff. Congratulations to ALL the applicants too — you put yourselves out there and took a chance. That is a bigger accomplishment than anything else!

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

Honestly I’m not really sure where to begin and that doesn’t make much sense to me. My 20th homecoming at UD…I should have some profound statement to make, some heartfelt story to share, some memory that triggers laughter and tears all at the same time but….at the moment….I’ve got nothing.

How is this possible?!  How can I sit here on the couch without having a single inspirational thought running through my mind?!  Has it finally happened? Have I lost my touch? Have I lost my mind? Have I come to the end of the road where Santa is standing next to a leprechaun, both looking at me with sheer annoyance??  …perhaps they are….

To be fair to myself, I actually have hundreds of memories racing through my mind.  Each one bringing a smile to my face.  What I find interesting is that every memory is equal to the next.  Yes there are some that seem to stand out at first but then another one pops into my head that has the same importance in the evolution of the program.  Each story is better than the next and yet they all seem to stand shoulder to shoulder with each other because of one overarching theme: family.

I’ve written about about this topic before but sometimes certain topics are worth revisiting.  We all have family.  Mine are all up in northern NJ or Manhattan.  Our families bind us together–they are there for us in good times and bad.  They can always be counted on when needed.  Some people are lucky to have an extended family…I’m one of those people.

From college friends who have stuck by my side through thick and thin to former students who are now colleagues and cohorts, it really doesn’t get any better than this!  Band brought us all together…band keeps us together.  Band is family….UD is home.

20 years have flown by…and with that about 3000 people have graced my life by letting me share in theirs.  We’ve shared happy thoughts, flown past the second star to the right and have found Neverland together. We’ve weathered Indians, alligators and a few Captain Hooks over the years but we’ve always come out the other side as far better people.  The people come and go but there will always be Lost Boys to look after, and there will always be another adventure.

See you all bright and early……


“We said goodbye to a dear old friend
And we packed our bags and left feeling sad
It’s the only way”


2010 – Freshman Year:  Moments like this one run through your mind…this just happened.  Only yesterday were you sitting in a room with 100+ other freshmen being told: “Enjoy every moment. It will go by in the blink of an eye.” And you thought: “I don’t know who this woman is…I don’t know if I can trust her…I miss my high school band director and all my friends.  What did I get myself into?!”

Dirt.  That’s what.  Dust and dirt. Grit in your eyes, in your teeth, in your throat every time you took a breath to play.  WTH?!  And what is up will all those trucks loaded with turf turds??  They drive back and forth and back and forth…and you thought: “If I have to do this tune one more time because a dump truck interfered with our run through I’m going to quit!”


…but you didn’t.  You stayed…and perhaps you learned to love.


2011 arrived…TURF COMPLEX! And you thought: “How could this be possible? How can we have such a place to rehearse? Wait–we’ve got LIGHTS??????  Who the hell painted dark green yard lines on a green plastic surface?!”  You weren’t a freshman any longer–you were a SOPHOMORE!  And as far as you were concerned college was the best place ever and it would never end.  Yet something kept pushing you. Time was speeding up and people you came to know and love the year before had moved on.  But it was ok. You were ready for more responsibility, more excitement and more everything.  You wanted to stay forever because these were quite possibly the best days of your life!

Still there was only one thought running through your mind more than any other: “My legs are going to fall off if we do “Good Riddance” again!”  

…but they didn’t. And you stayed…and perhaps you learned perseverance.

Image2012–Junior Year:  Suddenly you were a junior.  How did that happen??  And you thought: “What do you mean I have to play all these notes?!  Where’s the rock and roll? Oh dear lord…we’ve got props?!?!  Sarv has finally gone over the deep end. She’s in the shed with a table saw, power drill, hammer, nails…and I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard so many curse words strung together like that! Hey look–the fences are on wheels!!!  That’s sort of cool…….(and then, 10 minutes later)….Not only are the damn fences in my way but I have to MOVE them too???”  

And then it was November and it hit you…they’re leaving.  The seniors are leaving…and you’ll be here all alone.  And you thought: “When did that happen? What am I going to do? How can I come back without them?”

…but you did. You stayed…and perhaps you learned commitment.

Image2013–Senior Year:  …and you thought: “Look at all the new things!!  A new truck! New uniforms! Even Sarv and Rah are NEW!  But wait…..O.M.G.  I can’t believe it. Sarv was right–it went by in the blink of an eye! I can’t stop crying. Everyone’s crying…why aren’t the freshmen crying?! Don’t they understand?? It’s almost OVER! “ But they don’t understand.  All they know is that they made some of the best friends they will ever have at a time when they were more frightened than ever before…and that those friends are leaving them.

They don’t understand why Christmas changed…but you do.  You stayed…and perhaps you learned to give.

You see, if you did YOUR job right these last few years then they WILL understand one day…in fact many of them already do.  And that is because of YOU. The journey you’ve been on has been filled with far more than you ever could have imagined four short years ago.  You take with you memories and friendships that define you, that you will carry with you for the rest of your lives. But what you do not realize is all you have left behind.  You have built upon the foundation of those who came before; you have added your lasting impact upon the lives of others; you gave people (me) strength when they felt they had none left.

Travel well my friends….and when you arrive at the start of your next adventure I hope of all the lessons you’ve learned this one is carried in your heart: “To Love. To love what you do; to love each other; and to love yourself with complete and total abandonment.”

“We said hello as we turned the key
A new roof over our heads
Gave a smile
It’s the only way.”