“CONNECTION”….having a relationship with another, by kinship, friendship, or common interest. While we live in a reasonably small community, it never ceases to amaze me how many people I cross paths with in a day’s time, that I am connected to in some way. My morning routine has me tuning my radio to AM550 each day, where I check to see if I know anyone whose name is on the birthday list; more often than not there is at least one familiar name. Of course, those of you who know me can make a pretty strong case that those connections were likely made through Band. I have met so many people through my (many) years of playing music, including friends who I have played music with since high school, and parents who entrusted their kid(s) to me for several years as Band members. Some of those parents are also fellow musicians. Last but not least of course, are the bazillion kids who I have taught in Band.
Bands spend lots of time together making music, but we also spend time together both inside and outside of the Bandroom, making memories, (“connections”). Sometimes things go from sublime (performing so well, musically and otherwise at a contest that we earn “Esprit de Corp” recognition) into
the ridiculous (tromping around through two inches of rain in Busch Gardens, while at a contest). Some kids leave their mark on my Bandroom, (their connection to future members). There are Christmas ornaments with names on them, some going back to the late 90’s Band years at JCMMS. There are several time capsules hidden in the JFH Band room; there is a piece of a T-shirt with a football team logo on it that hangs (face down since I don’t root for that team) on my office wall, there is a small memorial box containing the earthly remains of Mickey Mouse, along with a hidden final resting place for a squeezie frog named Chad, who sprung a leak during Stage Band. (That funeral was very touching.) Loads of cards, pictures and small gifts are all tangible “connections” for me.
In many cases I am blessed to stay connected to kids far beyond their three middle school years, through high school when they come back to help my kids, and often into college/adulthood as we play music together in local ensembles. Whether students remain in the area or not, social media makes staying connected so much easier these days. It’s fun to share a photo or two when I come across them (floor signatures, funny things written on old sheet music, photos), and I truly enjoy seeing my former Band kids
in all their grownup glory. My plan for this month was not to recognize the folks I have stayed in touch with though, but to celebrate those random encounters when I cross paths with Band family who I have
not stayed in contact with. I don’t actively seek out most of these interactions, but am so incredibly grateful when I realize that I have once again reconnected with a member of my extended Band family. It happens often, and looking back has covered just about every stage of my adult life. SO many times, these connections fall on landmarks, make my life easier and a little brighter, and many times were my saving grace. Far too often, I have never really taken the opportunity to show my gratitude though, so here it goes.
Thank you to the many waitresses and waiters over the years, too many Band members to mention. I appreciate the clarinet player who rings up my groceries while she reminisces, and the flute playing dog groomer at PetSmart who put up with my dorky doodle. Many hugs to my “student teaching days” colorguard captain/turned close friend/bridesmaids/musician buddy, who kept me laughing during some really rough times. Later on she let me teach her two awesome kids, then created the PERFECT flowers for my kid’s prom. We have also performed on flute together many times, including once with live bullfrog accompaniment.
There have been so many “they rescued me” moments– I was blessed with the Band dad who fixed and eventually replaced my ancient furnace, then came back again to install AC (I still have no clue how you got that oil tank out of my basement; I miss your bright-eyed smile– RIP). So grateful to the Band mom who made our wedding cake and planned the whole event (“if you hit wood when you are cutting, just move the knife”–you really did make a great catch on that toppling cake, by the way!) I am forever in debt to the multiple Band moms who taught me EVERYTHING about staying cool and managing large group meals, handling pant hemming crises, washing 50 pairs of bibs, and making a fantastic chocolate chip cheeseball.
Bless the Band mom who taught my lamaze classes, and the Band moms who took my blood pressure every fifteen minutes when I was pre-eclamptic, and also those who cared for our newborns who were born five years apart–these ladies even chaperoned the pre-delivery Band trips to Busch Gardens during both pregnancies, (“babies can be born anywhere!”) luckily their kids were the same ages apart as my own! I am eternally grateful for the Band dad who has been our trusted pediatrician for 20 years, and to the Band parents in general (an EMT, nurses and just kind souls) who rushed to help my mom when she
fell and cut her head at a concert.
I’m in debt to the Band Dads who have fixed the Band trailer more than once, and to the Band Dads who taught me to hitch, tow and back up (well, kind of back up) a trailer myself. Huge thanks to the Band Dad who many years ago, found and repaired the nail in my tire faster than I could have ever imagined possible, while my toddler was crying blue murder at nap time. I am grateful to the drummer who helped us check out a vehicle that he knew well from his day job, taking the time to drive to Staunton to run codes on a car we found when we were car shopping for my teen. I appreciate the trumpet player who sold me my car, and the Band Dad who has done amazing crash repair work after all three deer impacts (yes, three).
Sometimes I do seek out support and am always in awe of the generosity the connections I have, can offer to my Bands. I am so appreciative of the saxophone alumni who made a recent fundraiser happen on behalf of our group, to help purchase some microphones. Close to a quarter of the instruments in use in my Band room have been donated by friends, colleagues and by former Band members, so other kids
could have the same Band experiences (and make connections) just like they did. This usually happens with a phone call or email from out of the blue, but more often just with a knock on the Band room door (#8, back parking lot). The donations, the support with fundraisers and the never ending supply of smiles, waves, and “Hey MizB, how are you doing??”…all of these “connections” are a treasure, each and every time. THANK YOU!