Tuesday, November 22, 2016

An old man's dream came true

Wow has it been over 5 years since I posted to this thing? It looks like a few things have changed also. I have to relearn how to do this. I just got back from an amazing weekend in Grand Forks and had to write something about it.

As most of your know, Brianna, my daughter is in her third year of college at the University of North Dakota majoring in music education. As a musician she has also participated in the Pride of the North University Athletic Band. So she has had the opportunity to perform pregame and halftime shows for the football team as well as play in the pep band for other sports like hockey and basketball.

This year she she was selected to be one of the two drum majors for the marching band so not only is she part of the marching band she gets to stand on a ladder and direct the troops. Needless to say she has some very proud parents.

Over the years we've attended some of these games and as a trumpet player myself, I've expressed many times how I wished I could be out there playing as well. This weekend Brianna and her boyfriend made that happen.

We already had made plans to go to Grand Forks for her flute recital which was to take place last Saturday and it just so happened there was a women's hockey game to be played later that afternoon against the University of Minnesota. The kids mentioned they often have a hard time getting a full band to sign up and that just maybe they might let an old duffer like me sit in. Last week I received a happy text directing me to bring my trumpet and that everything was set for me to play at the game.

After an amazing recital we made our way to the Ralph Engelstad Arena where I went in the back entrance and received my uniform jersey. Unfortunately, I had to give it back once the game was over. we got our instruments together and made our way into the stands.

I have to admit I was a bit anxious. I wasn't sure how the rest of the band would take to having this old guy come sit in with them. I needn't have worried. The band could not have been more gracious. One of them exclaimed, "We have a guest!" and they made me feel extremely welcome.

Brianna's boyfriend Josh gave me his music and started explaining how the procedure worked with when certain songs would be played and when. It's important the band only plays when they are supposed to. It is an athletic event and you don't want to distract from actual game play.

My first struggle was with the music. Marching band music is printed on little rectangles of paper with minutely tiny notes. In my younger days I had no problem deciphering the musical symbols. These days, I wear bifocals and I struggled to find the right distance from my face so things weren't all blurry.

Here you can see the blob of music I'm holding and me struggling to read them. Josh is on my right and Brianna is on my left with the saxophone. Note how all the college kids have their music memorized so they don't have the same problem I do.

My next struggle was how quickly they change from song to song. You have very little time to page through the music Rolodex and find the next song. Usually they were already halfway done by the time I started to play.

The next adventure was during the 2nd and 3rd periods the band lines up outside the arena and marches an impromptu parade around the concourse. They play the school fight songs and for some reason a catchy tune called, "In Heaven there is no beer". That was a hoot marching around having the spectators walking and clapping along.

Alas, all good things must end. UND tied the game but ending up losing the shootout. So it wasn't exactly a North Dakota victory but this old man had the time of his life playing with these kids. For a few hours, it was just like I was back in high school again. Then I had to turn in my jersey.

THANK YOU to Brianna and Josh. I will never forget this amazing experience!