Posts Tagged ‘rah_mcadams’

Delazure 2015This time of year is always challenging for me.  Some of it is the winter blues that everyone tends to get to one degree or another. Some of it is the end of two incredibly intense seasons (summer–DMA and fall–UDMB) that always come to a screeching halt once football concludes.  After months playing the role of Director where one must create in one form or another on a daily, if not, hourly basis, the holiday vacation is a welcomed respite.  The challenge are the 6+ weeks AFTER the holidays….they drag on and on and on with little to no direction, offering little to no motivation.

This year I did have the “distraction” of adding a bit more metal, plastic and this time, ceramics to my body. Nothing like a hip replacement to give you something to focus upon each day. Nope, nothing like it AT ALL.  The hip has certainly taken priority and given me goals to achieve, such as going up the stairs using my legs and not hauling my body up by my arms.  You know, small goals. Yet the annual Winter Blahs still took hold pretty tight because of one missing component: I live to create.

I know, I most certainly could do all sorts of things to quench this desire but it’s not the same as standing in front of 300-400 students, be it DMA or UDMB, who are “in it with you.” Nope, just not the same. Yet today I realized something I have always known but tend to forget: Creating is much more than just the nuts and bolts of pageantry–stop being literal and think outside the proverbial box.

“Providing opportunities for the students that they might not ever get to experience unless they are in the UDMB.” This is my personal motto…ok, so I stole from someone else but if he were still with us I know he would approve and applaud. All sarcasm aside though, I do truly believe the above statement is my “bigger” job. Let me explain:

During the winter two organizations exist that my role is to merely oversee. Pep Band is directed by Jim Ancona. I jokingly tell people I just pay the bills. In truth while I do indeed pay the bills, I also know that back in 1995 when we (Jim and I) decided to make the Pep Band a formal ensemble, it was critical that I supported Jim and his decisions, that we were a team even though he did all of the “heavy lifting.” Today I still pay the bills. Rarely do I need to cover any games as we have three Graduate Assistants who help Jim, but I do break out the horn from time to time and join in on the fun. What I know more than anything though is that just by showing up to a game and LISTENING to the band play, cheering along with them, and “cracking wise” with them is more important than anything else—they see me supporting their endeavors. And THAT is the bigger picture.

So today I spent time at a men’s basketball game hanging with the Pep Band. I was unable to stay for the conclusion of the game because I needed to drive out the New Jersey to see the other group at their first competition of the 2015 season: Delazure indoor guard.

Again, my role is to pay the bills. I have this wonderful creative staff (Sarah McAdams, Phil Cavalcanto and our new designer, Joey Heininger) that does all the writing. I do my best to get to as many shows as I can–something I have come to realize that a number of my colleagues around the country do not do…something I will never understand.  I may not write the drill or the work, I most certainly am not out there teaching them movement (maybe after the other hip and knee get replaced…….nah, not even then!). But they ARE my students and they deserve my support in as many ways as I can provide it.

Their show this year is titled “A Winter’s Gift,” and it is stunning.  It is the fastest-paced show we’ve every produced, it is layered in more ways than you can count (with much more to come) and in a word, it is beautiful. But it was the title that struck home with me this evening…a winter’s gift….

Perhaps that is what it is really all about. I live to create, I love to create…but creating doesn’t have to be the nuts and bolts all the time. Creating can be providing opportunities for the students that they might not ever get to experience unless they are in the UDMB…or Pep Band…or Delazure.  That is my winter’s gift.

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.