Ensemble Competition 

This afternoon I experienced the perfect break. My grandson Dayan, a senior at Carl Junction High School, competed at Missouri Southern State University with a brass quartet. I love listening to these talented teens play music together. I picked up my daughter Elissa from work and we slipped into the music room where the musicians would perform. 

Ensemble Competition
Elissa and I arrived early enough to watch the group compete ahead of Dayan’s quartet. Although they were from the same high school, I didn’t recognize any of the musicians. However, I enjoyed their lively performance. 

After smiles and sighs of relief, the group quietly exited the room and moments later, Dayan and three other musicians took their places. I have been present during many of my grandson’s concerts and marching band performances and various competitions, and I never tire of watching him play his tuba. 

Ensemble Competition
Ensemble Competition

I am always deeply moved by these young musicians. They devote time and energy to practicing their music. And each teen focuses on learning his or her part well, so that when they play together, whether as a band of hundreds or a small group of four, they harmonize wonderfully. 

In Dayan’s quartet there was a trumpet, French horn, trombone and tuba. For the competition they play Bayou Bagatelle, and played it beautifully, each contributing their part to create something bigger than they could individually. 

Ensemble Competition
I watched these two groups perform today with a heightened awareness of the unique gifts each musician offers to one another and to the world. Yesterday my community lost two Joplin high school seniors, in two separate freak accidents. Two 18 year olds, set to graduate in May. My heart breaks for their families. The community’s collective heart breaks. 

There are no easy answers to the many questions that are circulating through a shocked and saddened city. Watching the earnest faces of the musicians today, watching Dayan as he masterfully played the tuba, listening to the music that they created, I know those young lives, while seemingly cut short, left vital legacies behind. I was made aware today that our lives matter at every age, and an 18 year old, as much as a 58 year old, can change the world, or change another life, simply because he offers his gifts, and himself, to others. Like today’s musicians, those young men played their unique parts well, contributing to a larger story that we only occasionally catch glimpses of, and rarely understand. 

Thank you to Dayan and the other musicians that I listened to today, for reaching a tender ache in my heart, and reminding me that each of us, no matter our age, color, gender, orientation or financial status, is significant and crucial. Each of us impacts this world and beyond, the ripples created by our lives flowing outward, like fine musical notes that echo into eternity, beautifully harmonious forever. 

Marching in the Rain

Tonight was Friday night football, and for the Carl Junction Bulldogs, it was homecoming. It has poured rain all day, cancelling the town’s homecoming parade. But the weather didn’t delay the game or dampen the enthusiasm of the fans. We just accepted that it was raining. 

Greg and I met our daughter Elissa and son-in-law Josh at the stadium. I had three folding seats to protect us from the wet bleachers. Josh graciously stood, gallantly holding an umbrella over his sweet wife. 

The band stayed dry inside the school until two minutes before halftime. But they weren’t going to let a little rain stop them from performing. 

The Marching Bulldogs presented an excellent halftime show, playing a patriotic medley in four parts. I admire this hardworking group. I know from conversations with my grandson Dayan that the band members put in many hours of practice, meeting early before school. 

The band will soon be marching in fall and holiday parades and competing in area competitions. These halftime performances allow the band to hone their skills while entertaining the crowds. 

I was so proud of Dayan and the Marching Bulldogs. Their dedication is showing. And their commitment as well. It requires more effort and concentration to play well in cool, rainy weather. In spite of droplets pelting their faces and challenging conditions that can affect the musical instruments, the band gave a powerful performance that drew whoops and applause. 

I am very aware that Dayan only has a few more halftime performances left as a Marching Bulldog. His senior year is well under way. I will be there for all his performances, throughout the year, rain or shine. Go Bulldogs! Go Dayan!

            Rain can’t dampen my enthusiasm either. 

Catch the Marching Bulldogs’ performance HERE 

Surrender 122: Carl Junction High School Bands Spring Concert

This afternoon I left my mom in the cheerful company of my sisters and niece, and slipped away from the hospital to attend a spring concert. Unbelievably, the school year is drawing to a close. My grandson Dayan, who has been extremely busy with end of school competitions, joined the Carl Junction Wind Ensemble for the final concert of his junior year. 

I love band concerts and I confess a special fondness for the bands that my grandson is a member of. I’ve been attending Dayan’s band performances for years, and I’ve had the pleasure of watching him and the other musicians grow in their musical abilities. This group of teens sounds amazing together. I am always impressed, inspired and deeply moved, listening as they play. 

Today, between the Symphonic Band performance, directed by Trey Wadell, and the Wind Ensemble performance, directed by Scott Schneider, awards were presented. Dayan was recognized as a sectional leader and for being selected as a member of this year’s Honor Band. He also lettered in band, for the third time as a high schooler. 

After a time of recognition and well deserved applause, the Wind Ensemble, of which Dayan is a member, graced us with three musical selections. Fanfare and Flourishes by James Cumow was a great opening attention grabber. 

I Am by Andrew Boysen Jr was a moving selection with a poignant backstory. Commissioned after the tragic death of high school band member Lynn Jones, Boysen created this piece as a celebration and affirmation of life. There’s a section intended to represent the foggy morning of the car crash in which Jones died. And at the end of the piece, the band members softly chant, “I am…I am…I am.” Beautiful and haunting. 

The words I Am are from a poem Jones wrote just days before his death: 

I Am

Life, Music, Competition.

I like exciting things, and doing good for others.

Beauty, Successfulness and Smartness are important to me.

I like to achieve recognition.

I can succeed if I really put my mind to it.

I am very set in my ways,

But I can change when I realize my ignorance.

I like a simple nonchalant lifestyle.

I hate ignorance.

I hate structuredness.

This is me. I am!

                           Lynn Jones, January 1990

Such a powerful way to memorialize this teenager’s poem and life. The ensemble played with passion and skill. I was deeply touched. 

Listen to I Am HERE

The last selection was Undertow by John Mackey, a lively and creative piece that brought applause and a standing ovation. 

Cake was served after the concert. Josh, Elissa, Greg and I might have been near the front of the refreshment line! We enjoyed this celebratory dessert as we watched for Dayan, who joined us when he could. 

I’m proud of this dedicated group of young men and women. As I listened to their performance, marveling as always at the gifts these musicians offer to the world, I acknowledged that this beautiful work of creativity is the culmination of hours and hours of effort. 

I know Dayan’s schedule. From marching band to honor band to ensembles, he shows up for early morning practices, experiences long bus rides, participates in parades in all types of weather and gives his best effort during nerve wracking auditions, solos and competitions. Why? So he can play the music that’s before him. So he can join with others as they do the same. So that together, they create something larger than themselves. 

What amazing life lessons they are learning. What beautiful music they create. I’m already looking forward to the next school year’s performances. 

Journey 10: All District Honor Band Concert

All District Band 2

With a sense of anticipation late this afternoon, I took a seat in the darkened and hushed auditorium in the Webb City High School Performing Arts Building. Ninety-nine area high schoolers from 27 different school districts took their places on the large stage for the All District Honor Band Concert. My grandson, Dayan, playing the tuba and representing Carl Junction, was among those talented musicians.

Under the direction of Dr. Timothy Oliver, from Arkansas State University, the band played vibrantly, beautifully, as they performed. I settled back in my seat with a sigh and listened. Incidental Suite, with its three movements, had the big sound and feel of a movie soundtrack. Different Voices was unique in that the piece incorporated the band members own voices. During the second movement their rising and falling whispers added interest to the musical number. I loved that Dr. Oliver, before this work was played, informed us that during the piece we would wonder if the band was “doing something.” The answer he said, was that yes, they were doing something. I laughed, without really knowing what he meant, but as the whispering started, I understood. They WERE doing something indeed!

Mass from La Fiesta Mexicana was a more sober and reflective piece. My favorite part of this selection was the trumpet soloist who, in muted tones, sounded like a priest intoning the words of mass, while the rest of the band answered with tones that made me think they were saying, “Aaaaaaaa…..meeeeennnnnn.” It was beautiful and clever. The last work was Steel, an energetic and exciting piece with lots of percussion and movement. Dr. Oliver suggested we might want to get our groove on, listening to this melodic song, and assured us the band members certainly would be!

While Steel seemed to be the crowd pleaser, evoking a standing ovation after the stirring conclusion, I enjoyed each piece, for different reasons. As I heard each selection, I’d think, “This one is my favorite”. And then I’d hear the next one and think the same thing! I decided I loved them all. Dr. Oliver was fantastic as the conductor, gifting the audience with his graceful movements and fun commentary, while giving expert direction to his band.

What is amazing to realize is that these young men and women met as a band for the first time last night. They had nine hours of rehearsals, with a director they’ve not worked with previously, before giving a concert. It is a testament to their talents and their ability to learn quickly that in that short amount of time they formed a cohesive and beautifully functioning musical entity. They sounded so wonderful together. It is a life lesson as well. When I offer my own music, knowing who I am and what I am gifted to do, I don’t need to worry about what notes others are playing. I can allow them to do what they do so well. Just like today’s band, we blend harmoniously and offer beautifully, when each gifted individual joins together to create an even greater and more gifted whole.

I let those amazing tones and melodies wash over me, soothing my soul, while at the same time, lifting my energy. I am proud of Dayan for his contribution and more than that, for his courage in stepping up and auditioning for these kinds of things. This young man doesn’t back down from a challenge or bother to dwell in his comfort zone. He gives it his best. And life gives its best back to him. He inspires me. The music this afternoon inspired me. I left refreshed.

Music is to the soul quote

Day 255: CJ Marching Band Takes the Field

CJ marching band 2e

Last Friday night strong thunderstorms moved into the area, cancelling the Carl Junction Marching Band’s first half time performance. Dayan and the band took shelter in the school, in hopes of waiting out the storm. Eventually they were sent home. Tonight, under an overcast sky and with much, much cooler temperatures, the Bulldogs football team took the field on time and the marching Bulldogs got their half time.

I was excited to be headed to Carl Junction again this evening. Although dark clouds hung low in the sky, and a few drops of rain sprinkled across the windshield, the forecast called for nothing more than drizzle and cool, fall-like temperatures. I traded in last week’s short sleeve shirt and lightweight jacket for a couple of shirts layered under a hoodie. Once I arrived at the stadium, I added a long raincoat that served me well in Scotland, and a pair of knit gloves! I was reminded of preparing for the annual Christmas parade, bundled up as I was. Once Greg and I found our seats, saved for us by Elissa, Josh and Jonathan, I also covered up with a heavy plaid throw. I was ready for some football!

The Carl Junction football team was ready as well, making touchdown after touchdown against Springfield Central. At the half, with a score of 48 to 8, the team took a much deserved break. Across the field, the 132 member marching band prepared to take the field. Dayan plays the tuba. He is a tall, muscular young man. When he joined the band, back in 6th grade, he tried out on five different instruments. Five instruments, I might add, that he had never played before. I was so proud of him for deciding to join the band and auditioning on instruments he had just picked up for the first time. As he so often does, Dayan inspired me with his courage and determination. He impressed the band teacher as well. He did so well that he was allowed to choose which instrument he wanted to play. The teacher, though, suggested the tuba. Dayan had the height and strength to carry this cumbersome musical instrument. Dayan agreed….and has become an excellent tuba player, most years qualifying for the regional honor band.

CJ marching band Dayan e

I watched for his tall form, carrying the tuba, as the band members marched toward the stands. I played in the marching band years ago, in junior and senior high. There is still that thrill of anticipation when I watch the band stand at attention, ready to perform. The Marching Bulldogs entertained us with two Latin songs, marching in formations as they played. I especially enjoyed the second song as the band broke into two groups, forming moving circles on the field. And of course, we all stood, infused with school spirit, as the band last of all played the Bulldogs Fight Song. It was an awesome first performance for the year. I was very proud of Dayan and the band and whooped and clapped to show my appreciation for all their hard work.

Dayan’s dad, stepmom, younger sister and baby brother were in the stands too, cheering the band on. We all had the opportunity to see Dayan, as half time wound down and the third quarter began, and congratulate him on an amazing performance. Elissa and I intend to get shirts made for the family that have Dayan’s last name of Reynolds on them and the statement, Here for the marching band. We enjoyed watching the football players too, who were victorious tonight with a 57 – 16 win. And happy to acknowledge that the band contributes to the team spirit, playing before and during the game, musically celebrating each touchdown, and they really shine during half time. I am proud to let everyone know, that I am here for Dayan, and for the band, and that I see them as important as well.

Check out the Bulldogs Marching Band Here