Let’s imagine, shall we, that we’re sitting in the Woodlan auditeria. Tables span the room with lovely sparkly centerpieces, and band members and their families sit and chat.
(It’s the band banquet that wasn’t. Cause 2020 was weird.)
The delicious food has been devoured and our Band Booster President stands at a podium on the stage, welcomes everyone, says a few words of celebration, then introduces the senior parent speaker.
(Because, it’s my blog and I can.)
I shove the rest of my cupcake in my mouth…chocolate, of course…and stumble out of my seat. Wiping frosting from my chin, I trip my way onto the stage, gripping my paper, which holds all the words I might say.
At the podium, I squint out at the people lingering in the shadows. I chuckle as my nerves bounce and shiver. I wave at a few of the band members, who call out my name. They love me, what can I say?
I clear my throat, smooth out my paper, and lean towards the microphone.
Cue me looking around, waiting for someone to say hi back.
“I’m a glitter-aholic.
And I blame the band.”
With a giggle-snort, I pause for laughter that probably won’t happen.
“Actually, I blame the band for a few things…
“Missing relaxing fall weekends. Having to write catchy phrases like “Soar to the top” and “be crane-tastic”. Spending hours outside in the heat, cold, and rain. Stressing over scores and whether the Spirit of Woodlan will be announced as one of the top ten at semi-state and heading to state finals. (I seriously hate semi-state.)
“And it was all worth it.
“Back in the spring of 2016, my daughter Ella announced her intention to join the marching band.
“DANGER! DANGER, WILL ROBINSON!
“We both suffered from nerves and panic. Ella came home from her first practice and said, “I’m never going to get this, Mom.” She was close to tears thinking that marching band was too difficult, but she wanted to march and be able to do it well.
“I faced the fact that I would have to find a way to volunteer that wouldn’t break my brain.
“It began in 2016 with The Pyramids of Egypt. Ella navigated learning music and drill and putting on the uniform. I found a place in the pit crew and on the bus as a chaperone. We both learned the routine of competition days and how quickly marching band became life. And they qualified for state finals and WOW. What a fantastic experience.
“We were more prepared for the rigors of the schedule in 2017 for A Change of Heart. A season of shiny new uniforms. Ella was much more comfortable on the field as was I on the pit crew setting up signs, which had issues with the wind. I was back on the bus with faces I knew. And when they didn’t qualify for state. The change of heart meant shattered.
“But they came back in 2018 with The Witching Hour and a theme that allowed the creativity to soar. Ella had a solo as well as becoming the trumpet section leader. With the moves established in her brain and feet, with marching band no longer an unknown…she took the season by storm, determined to make it to state. We all had that mindset. I continued to chaperone, but that year I wasn’t needed on the pit crew. However, I was recruited onto the locker and band room decorating crews, as well as blogging. Faeries and eyeballs and the tick tock of the clock, we made it to state.
“2019 brought A Thousand Cranes. A show that got better and better every competition. A season full of first place finishes and all the medals of distinctions. The show transformed over those two months, ending at state finals in all its colorful glory. The band room filled with bright origami cranes and streamers and wishes on the wall. Ella was beyond ready, marching band a comfortable place with a routine she knew and people she loved. I went back on the field with the pit crew, back on the bus, and back to inspiring the band by sticking decorations on lockers and making the band room a place of wonder. And back to state we went.
“2020 brought a challenge. A virus. Limitations. And no band season. Ella wanted one last chance at state. With her eye on the solo and determination in her soul, she was going to get there. But it wasn’t to be. No solo for her. No leading her section through the drill. And for me…no pit crew. No chaperoning. No locker decorations. No transformation of the band room.
“Inconceivable. Band season had become a normal, well-known time of year. One that was crazy and at times stressful, but also full of friendship, hard-work, and joy. I noted the passing of each Saturday, each moment I wasn’t on a bus, fighting tape to get our creations on lockers, or hauling a prop onto the field. We did our best to find moments to celebrate. Senior banners. Halftime shows. A chance to play together, maybe not as much as usual, but together. Ella had her chance to play her solo on Woodlan’s field. I had a chance to lead the Spirit of Woodlan cheer from the stands, which I had never done before and found thrilling. So the season was quiet. Different. Sad."
“But I’ve learned things from spending so much time with the band over the years. As I watched practices from the bleachers, they repeated the same musical phrases and same drill over and over and over, chasing their need to be their best. They never gave up. Determination drives each member of the band to put that uniform on and take the field and give it their all. And maybe there is celebrating and smiles…or maybe there’s disappointment. But no matter what, their pride shines the brightest of all. Pride in what they do, in their band, in who they are.
“So this year wasn’t what we expected…what we wanted, but we hold onto the pride and determination and go forward. The seniors face an exciting new future. And the band continues. Because they are determined. They won’t give up.
“Time spent together. Hours and hours in the band room, on the field, on buses. Playing. Laughing. Working. Hugging. Crying. Talking. Practicing. Learning. Growing. The Spirit of Woodlan means a lot to so many, becoming a special time in the lives of those who proudly wear the uniform.
“And to me.
“Let it be for you.
“Have fun. Enjoy every moment. As everyone helps make marching band seasons spectacular and memorable for the band, make your own happy moments. For it’s not only about the musicians, but about you too, dear friends and family. Your talents. Your life. Your memories.
“It has been an honor and pleasure to have been a part of this strange, hilarious, drama-filled group. To my fellow band parents I’ve spent so much time with, it was a blast. From brainstorming to glittering, from creating props to lugging them around, the best people in the world are band parents.
"Thank you, Mr. Slattery, for being the glue that binds the Spirit of Woodlan together. You will forever be one of Ella’s favorite teachers, and, when she looks back at her high school years, band will always hold her most treasured memories. Hers, and mine as a band parent.
“My time is at an end, but band goes on…for who are we? The Spirit of Woodlan. I leave knowing that others will step up to continue the fight. To be proud. To stay determined. To fill in the volunteer spaces. To make band the best place to be. And make it their own, sharing their ideas and talents.”
I’m not crying. You are.
To some light and scattered applause, I shuffle off the stage and go back to my seat, hoping there is one last cupcake waiting for me.
Please consider blogging. I would love to know this will continue.
This is your friendly band-mom-blogger signing off.