Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Might want to go get a tissue....

... the mama's reading this... you're gonna need a tissue... maybe some of the rest of you too...

Last night was the Band Awards Banquet... of his senior year.

Truthfully, he's only had two band banquets...before last year, we didn't have these.
Awards, when they were given, were passed out at the end of year concert.
This is way different... and I offer up a special gratitude to those who made this happen, those who planned and prepared, cooked and decorated and made it pull off without a hitch.

I love the banquet.  I love to see the light in their eyes, their 'spit-shined' appearance, all curls and glitter and heels, suits,ties and dress shoes and a dozen fragrances rolled into a happy, twitter-pated moment.  In a world where casual is the 'standard' and slouch is  an actual fashion term, there is a night were they're so beautiful that  that alone brings tears to my eyes.

And then there's this

and this

and this

Time and time and time again, child after child, after child, no formal handshake... no arms length presentation...

In a world where people on a momentary basis hurt each other physically,where the evening news is often horrifying, in a world where teachers and professionals of all types have been relegated to sterile distance,  thank you, Lord in Heaven above, for a program where children are touched and hugged and physically cheered on, encouraged and connected with, their mentors and teachers and each other.
For growth to occur and for love to connect, we must touch each other.  Plain and simple, there is no alternative to it.   Hand to hand, arms encircling, head to shoulder, cheek to cheek, toe to toe in a circle on the floor.  Family, in whatever form it takes, must touch each other.

There were awards.  And it's nice to be recognized for hard work and consistency and excellence.
It's nice to be singled out or honored as a part of a team.
Very important... this business of positive reinforcement... very important.

Of equal importance is continuity.  Show them what it takes to earn those awards.  And give them the opportunities to earn them for themselves.  Exact excellence... help them to get there for themselves.

A significant part of the banquet, especially for those who come next, is finding out who the officers and drum major will be for next year's marching season.

He made them stand, to wait for the call...

Tense and beautiful... a learning moment if ever there was one.

And there they are... the future of the program ,,,   leaders every one, charged to work together, for the betterment of the program and charged with uplifting each and every member, as they, themselves have been helped to achieve.  A better life lesson in teamwork they will never encounter, regardless of how long they live or what they choose to do in life.

Look at their smiles... eager anticipation for the future, but in the moment, excitement and happiness.  A couple of them were missing... not rounded up in the fray of 'after ceremony' crush of hugs and tears.  They are included, if not in a snapshot of the moment, in the year that follows this one.

And speaking of the future...  these two are among the graduates... and it puts that ache in my throat to see this photo.  CJ's father and I went to high school together. We go WAY back.  And as little 6th graders, these two found the drumsticks and the snare drum, and all the rest of the percussion equipment too tempting to resist.  And side by side, they have daily beat their way through a thousand pairs of sticks at least.  I have a photo of them as 'band babies' and they were both wearing the child size uniforms... but those faces,,, those same exact smiles... and those arms around each other...

... that's all that I can say about that.

The future of the drum line is safe.... safe and in good hands, literally and figuratively.
The energy and the drive and the sticks were handed over last night.  Taariq, there in the middle, steps up to the position of captain and he is so, so ready for it.  He'll lead a line that will feel a momentary adjustment without it's seniors and they will all look to him... for that strike of the snare that signals 'go'... for the leadership and the 'push' when they need it and for a calm, steady hand with a group that is known for it's sheer energy and pulse.   To the left is a kid that the band lovingly nicknamed LT... little Trent, and yes, he does remind me of Trent in those early days... Oh, the adventures that band can hold, the lessons they learn, the important and life changing things that lies before them.

Last year, began a new tradition of giving the seniors a blanket.  Embroidered with the band logo and their name and the number of years that they were in marching band.  A beautiful keepsake to take with them, where ever their future takes them, to wrap around them for warmth and comfort, symbolic sign of the family that remains with you when you go.  Send them on their way surrounded with that connection, covered with the warmth of their past, to places where they may need that strength... that touch connection... a physical symbol of an inward lifeflow of which they have been a part.


One by one... hand to hand...

standing in a line together... for the last time...

Standing acknowledgement of their peers for that moment...

Thank you to a school district and administrators who continue to see the importance in Fine Arts Education.
Continue to fight to keep the program and advance it.  The world without the music will be a dull place indeed and these children, from every end of the school, need this for them and in them. It takes them places... it fills them with confidence in a way that nothing else does.
It teaches...
                  it teaches.

Thank you to Hugh, who when Trent was 3 and 4 and 5... tossed him on the band golf cart, let him be the water boy...gave him drum sticks and turned him loose.

  Thank you for patience and life lessons and giving each of my three children  individual attention and letting them be who they were.  Thank you for guidance and friendship and for caring.  Thank you for that video tape of Elizabeth's graduation, when I was too ill to be there.  I shall never, ever, ever forget it.  Thank you for doing all of the above for the children who will never say thank you, and for the parents that you'll never see.  You and I both know that you don't do it for the thank you's... you do it because it's the right thing to do. I do appreciate that, more than words can ever say.

Thank you to these beautiful young people, our future in every sense of the word.  Thank you for loving each other, for those smiles when I hit the band room door.  Thank you for sharing your tears and laughter, your life stories and your future hopes and aspirations.  Know that as surely as the sun comes up on the morning, that I pray for you, asking God to guide you and to bless you, to hold you close and let you know that you are loved.  I ask for a light for your path and friends to make the way easier.

You know where to find me if ever you need me and there's not one of you, for which I will not answer the call.

A special thanks to Graham, for giving me a gift last night... for putting into actual words a precious thought.
You touched my heart.

Thank you David...

... for calling them children, for they are.  Too often they are rushed... call them children and when they act like children, as they sometimes do, give them that moment, instruct them and move on.

...for telling them that you learned from them... for an open sharing of what it's meant to have these particular participants on the beginning of your life's journey as a band director.... for letting them see the human side and the struggle sometimes, but for keeping the 'push' on for excellence, even when the going is rough.

...for that positive "yes?" at the end of your sentences.  For the expectation that their answer will be another positive 'yes'... From the first time that I heard it from the tower that first day of band camp, until the last time last night, it will be, in my mind, your trademark stamp on my child's band career and on my heart and soul.

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