With great memories from the UND Pride Day last year, we were eagerly awaiting for information regarding this year's Pride Day activities. In September, we received the following email from Rob Brooks, the band director for the UND Pride Marching Band: "Sorry about the delay about the Band Day info. Unfortunately, we are canceling it for this year. Below is the letter that is about to go out. However, since you are our most enthusiastic and appreciative director by far, we can host you and your band on that day if you would like. You are the only director and band that I am extending this offer to. Just let us know if you would like to make this happen. It would still be for the October 21st game. Thanks Mike!"
Of course we immediately accepted that special invitation - we were honored to even be invited! So, with a change of date, we all made it happen on November 11, 12. There were not the usual 300-400 band kids from other schools on this day - it was just us - HMB only. Even though we had very little idea about what we were going to do, we left HMB with music, decent reeds, oiled valves, suitcases with enough clothes to stay a week and some spending money - and some 'nervous' kids.
Following our 'more than usual' exciting bus ride to Grand Forks, we arrived at La Quinta Inn - and I must say with all seriousness and honesty, our kids behaved perfectly - there were no issues at all - they had a great time swimming - 'talking', 'laughing', 'talking,' 'laughing,' 'talking', 'laughing', 'talking,' 'laughing in their rooms. While we did order some pizza for them later into the evening to give them a break from the 'talking' and 'laughing,' it was a short-lived break. In fact, according to their appearances at breakfast, I don't think there was much sleeping that ever did take place that night.
After breakfast, we reloaded the bus with suitcases under the bus this time and carried all of our instruments with us inside the bus, we met the band at the Alerus Arena, had lunch with them, and eventually ended up sitting WITH THEM according to instrumentation. So exactly what many of the kids were concerned about truly TOOK PLACE! Our kids were able to mingle and play with these college students whenever they could. Of course we didn't know all of their music but we did know a few of the bits and pieces, so when they played what we knew, we played right along with them.
Our kids got to experience college band on the inside and up close. We also were allowed to down on the field with them. Even though we didn't march with them, we were close enough with them to be there for the pre-show action. It was great be down on the field with them, of course. We ended up back in the stands for more 'shorties' as they are called - short pep band pieces played during 'breaks' in the game.
Following the game, our kids participated IN what they call their 'Fifth Quarter' field concert that is performed to the UND alumni. As I have been a marching band enthusiast since I started teaching (and before during my HS and College years), I was excited to be asked to direct a piece 'from the ladder' during the Fifth Quarter presentation.
Last year, when I saw all of my band students participating in their first ever marching 'mass' band experience, I had tears of joy. This year, when I climbed up that ladder and looked out over the entire UND marching band on the indoor and gigantic Alerus field and saw all of our HMB band members IN the Pride marching band, I was wishing I had had some peacock feathers to fluff; I was so thrilled and proud to see my band students actually IN the formation and playing right along with the UND Pride Band! I truly heard a 'ball of fire' from my students.
Following the entire day's activities and with super hungry and tired kids, we headed for Fargo. The kids were asleep, as they were last year, within 5 minutes bouncing down the highway.
Our experience at a local restaurant who assured us they could handle 28 people in Fargo was a disaster; you can ask any of the kids what took place. We eventually headed out but now we were 'behind schedule'. While we still made every stop along the way, of course, we ended up at HMB with a bus load of tired band kids.
Was it successful, you ask? Beyond anything I expected or hoped. While we didn't get to experience the 500 bandsmen on the field this year, to see my band students be 'among' the band and trying their best to not only play along with them, but to also enjoy the spirit that takes place in College Football was just another huge bonus for my working with HMB band kids. They had the opportunity to try their hand at 'sight-reading' - and playing their instruments 'on the spot' - finding the music in a few seconds, working with uncooperative music lyres on their instruments, noticing that nobody seemed to leave to the concessions for refreshments, etc. and then had to end the day out on the field under the direction of their HMB director - I am sure there is more to say, but I can't remember it all myself?
Yes, it was highly successful
Next year, Pride Band director Rob Brooks hopes to be able to have the official "Pride Day' back that would include approximately 300-500 kids on the field performing for the halftime.
I am sure there are many details I have left out / forgotten. I am even very sure there are many things that took place that I don't even know about, as is the norm for any school band trip. In fact, I still hear about some of them from my students back many years.
But with our HMB kids, this was the most 'relaxed' and 'trusting' trip I have ever taken with band kids... so I say my thanks to them for being so wonderful, being so patient during the times we didn't know what was next - especially at the restaurant, on the bus, etc. and for being so fun to be around such as they are all such fun & funny kids - even throughout the grueling and demanding two day trip. They had their fun and funny smiles 'most of the time', hungry smiles all of the time and tired smiles by the end of the time.
And, of course, my thanks to Mr and Mrs Larson for their watchful eyes during their chaperoning time; to Cara for her chaperoning and taking care of business and to Michelle Fercho for her bus driving as well as her chaperoning moments also. Without you all, we couldn't have made this trip. You contributed to the success and safety of this trip. We left with 28 and came back with 28.
We already have our sights on next year!
Thanks again to Mr. Hanzal, the chaperones, the parents, and of course, to the band students - you have come along way since you first opened your Essential Elements Beginning Band book!
A very special thanks to the following folks for making this trip financially possible. Your donations were generous and they certainly expressed your support to the HMB music program along with your faith and trust in our music students - you provided them not only a great musical experience but also one of those school activities that helped them grow as a person, an experience that will never be forgotten! HMB - Transportation costs HMB Parent Group for their generous gift of $500.00. Bill and Shirley Gilbert, from Bella Vista, Arkansas for their generous gift of $500.00.
Bonus: Pride Marching Band piece performed in our presence during the "Fifth Quarter" for the UND Alumni
The UND Alma Mater
The Carillon Americana bells at the top of Twamley Hall on campus play the tune of Alma Mater each day at noon. This song most certainly brings tears to the college alumni every time it is heard!