This past Saturday, we had two events. First was a community parade that we have participated in since its inception. While most of our members and their families understand the significance of the parade, we always hear some grumbling about “giving up part of a Saturday” or “It’s hot” or “We got home late from the game and had to get up early”, or words to that effect. It seems that some people think that we participate in the parade just to make them uncomfortable.
The reason we march in the parade is that we are representing our school and our community. We constantly ask our community to support us as we work to raise funds for our activities. We work to prepare performances and ask for audiences to come share in what we do. This is an opportunity for us to take the performance to the community. Parades are older than our country. They are often celebrations to commemorate some event, some activity, or some community. Bands are a big part of the celebration. We are a band. The community needs to see and hear what we do. Our future members might just be standing there at the side of the street and after seeing the band, they decide that they want to be a part of it when they get older.
Our second performance on Saturday is at the Sunrise Assisted Living Center. We also hear quite a few opinions about this event, both positive and negative. Please take a minute to keep reading…it might help you better understand why we go to Sunrise each year.
Imagine for a minute that you are getting up in years. You can’t take care of yourself anymore. Your spouse can’t care for you alone and your kids are busy…they have jobs and families of their own…your days consist of sitting in your wheelchair, either in your dorm-sized room, or in the common area, surrounded by others who are in similar condition. The schedule of activities is limited and repetitive. You play bingo every day…watch the same TV shows, and have the same rotation of meals from the cafeteria. Some of your family visit occasionally….maybe once a week but more likely once a month or less. You can’t go anywhere on your own, and you long for something new or different to do or to experience.
One day, you are wheeled outside and there stands a marching band…all in uniform and performing uplifting music. The kids look so young and full of life. They are having fun as they play and dance. You clap your hands or cheer for them as they finish. It sparks memories of when you played in band...or when your kids were in band…or when you saw a parade. For a few minutes, you are enthralled and simply enjoy the music.
As we performed on Saturday, a lady was brought out to the front of the band. She has a grandson in the trombone section. She watched with a huge smile on her face as he and his friends played. Another gentleman recorded us on his iPad. He came over and introduced himself as a former Pope band parent whose wife was now living at Sunrise. Their son played in the band in the 1990s and is now an attorney in Washington D.C. They reminisced about how they tricked their son into joining band as a hesitant 9th grader and how he still has music in his life as a result. One lady sat in her wheelchair and clapped along to every song. When we finished, she remarked “This was so much fun…it really brightened up the day”. Yet another said “I can’t clap my hands, but I can certainly cheer for them…” and she did!
While this was happening, making it a special day for these folks, we had several folks complaining of the heat…looking at their watches asking “when will we be finished?”, and bemoaning the fact that a large part of Saturday had been spent with the band. Isn’t it interesting to see these opposing viewpoints in the same place at the same time? If you were the one confined to that wheelchair, would you appreciate the band ?
We do something in band that is special. It is uplifting and entertaining. It has many positive benefits. To share these is a gift. When given the opportunity, we need to celebrate the gift and pass it along to others. We will forget about the temperature of the day and the number of minutes spent playing, but we won’t forget the looks on the faces of those who were touched by our performance. We won’t forget the sincerity as they shook hands and said “Please come back again…”
As we move forward, please consider how you chose to approach our activity. Do you see it (and communicate it) as a gift or as a burden? If you know that it is a gift to be shared, then keep on spreading the word and cheering us on. Promote the band and encourage participation. If you tend to see the “glass half empty”, stop and take a careful look around. Can you find the positive results of the work and preparation as we perform? It is there…and we need to celebrate it at every opportunity. We only get one chance to be in high school band…make the most of it!