Moments like this are in minds for a long time. Wow- I entered high school. What a great feeling. I remember someone telling me during orientation that “You will have amazing four years of your life at high school.” and I thought that was a load of garbage. However, I came to realize during the year, as it went, especially in band class, that I was in for a great couple years with an amazing group of musicians who want to play great music. I had an incredible music teacher, Mr. Duffy, who inspired me to continue music during high school, due to the endless opportunities it would provide me. He was exactly right! I remember my first game playing in the marching band for the football game. It was great that I was on keyboards with some great people providing energy for the crowd- it was also Mr. Duffy’s last year, and I realized as soon as he retired, that he had my distant cousins for music since 1981, and that he changed a lot of lives. I was glad to realize I was a part of that. You stayed- and learned to love.
Mr. Duffy left, and then I wondered what would happen to the music department. Well, we had a teacher who was at the middle school for 30 years and she did not want to teach high school. So we welcomed her with open arms; a lot of people hated her, because of her style of teaching and the fact she did not know how to handle high school kids, like us; but, I learned a great deal of musicianship from her and I loved her. I then realized that rehearsals for our marching band games with movement and music will be tough; however, we nailed it last year and we can do it again, if our drum majors were on the dot, precise. It was disappointing that we were horrible this year, but we did not let that define the department and our musical talents. Mrs. Skrebutenas retired at the end of the year, which put her out of her misery, and I believe people realized after that, how much she tried to make us better musicians. We were at our low. I realized this year I was a sophomore now, and was not a freshman any longer. Yet something kept pushing you. Time was speeding up, and people you came to know and love the year before had moved on and people have left this year, due to the teacher. However, it was totally okay. You were ready for even more responsibility, more excitement and more everything, with a positive attitude. Even at the low points we had this year, you wanted to stay forever, because the years to come would possibly be the best days of your life. You stayed- and learned to have perseverance.
All of a sudden- I was a junior. Wow-time flew. We got a new band teacher, Mr. Clement, who we fought for since Mr. Duffy retired. He got the people who left band last year back in band, and set our band on the right path to getting us popular! We played incredible music that people loved and we involved the cheerleaders with our music. We played it and they danced to it. People realized that it was not the teacher that could make or break musicians, but it was the excitement and the sound we had that made people realize that because the previous year sucked, it would not overshadow how we would perform this year. We spent countless hours making sure our sound was powerful and our spirit was high for the people at the football games and at our concerts. When the time was over, it hit you, because the seniors unfortunately were leaving. You thought [I know I thought] how it happened, what could you do and what are you going to do, as well as how could you come back without them, knowing the excellence from this year might be gone. However, that positive attitude re-assured you that no matter what happens next year, it will be the best year of your life. You stayed- and learned commitment.
Brandon Stalcup, a best friend of mine since kindergarten, and I went to get certified to be a drum major. We attended UMASS in Amherst with other music students from around the world for one week, studying conduction, musical leadership and military drill and command for leading marching bands. When we got back, we could not believe we were the leaders of the band, and had the capability of doing great things for the program, our friends and for our school and their pride in us for music. We knew we could leave a legacy- and that is incredible for us to say we did. But wait … I could not believe it that 3 years has went by, faster than a blink of an eye. New music, new ideas for being a better band, new uniforms! All the graduating seniors and I are crying, and I wondered why the freshman, sophomore and juniors are not crying. I did not know if they understood or not that my time in the music department is over come June 23rd. All they know is that we did our best to make them better musicians, taught them lessons in music and life to help them understand how hard working hard actually is, and push them to be better than we saw them to be. Also, we became close as a band, since Brandon and I wanted all of us to have fun as a family playing music. The football games, the concerts, including the events during the year helped us become closer as musicians, friends and human beings in this world. Everyone made a best friend and had us all as friends at a time when underclassmen were more frightened to be working under us and in high school than ever before, and those people are leaving them on June 23rd. They do not understand why things have to change next year when you leave. However, you stayed- and learned to love.
You see, if you did YOUR job right these last few years, they WILL understand one day; in fact, many of them already do. That is because of YOU. The journey you have been on has been filled with far more than you ever could have imagined four short years ago. You take with you memories and friendships that define you that you will carry with you for the rest of your lives. But, what you do not realize is all you have left behind. You have built upon the foundation of those who came before; you have added your lasting impact upon the lives of others; and, you did give people (me) strength when they felt they had none left.
To the band members I got to work with, be friends with, and lead: travel well. When it is time to begin the start of a new adventure, I hope all the lessons you learned from me, from the teachers you had, your friends and family are carried in your heart, ESPECIALLY this one from me:
“To love- to love what is done by you, to love each other, and to love yourself with complete and total abandonment.”
A farewell is important before we can meet again – and meeting again after we die, or after a long period of time is certain for those who are friends that remember their memories forever.