Gratitude & BOA 2019

The Thanksgiving holiday is upon us! Some programs have hung up their shakos for the year, others are preparing to march in local and national parades, some are pulling out the pep band folders and hosting winterguard auditions, others are preparing for the concert season. We understand that the grind never slows! But in the midst of the end of season hustle and bustle, we want to pause, breathe, and share our favorite highlights from the #BOA2019 Grand Nationals event. These highlights are certainly what we are most grateful for in this activity!

1. Sportsmanship

It's not about what happens on the field. It's about everything that happens off of it. The rehearsals, extra sectionals, design meetings, section breakfasts, preshow hype. It's about the "GOOD LUCK, COLOR GUARD" called between the group coming off and the group entering the field for competition: the minuscule, ordinary interactions with strangers who are striving for the same success as you are.

Behind the scenes is more than a staging area. It is a place of calm before the adrenaline hits, a place where competitors cross paths on their way to warm-up, and a place where band parents share tools and hands so their kids can be as successful as possible. We were proud to witness groups high-fiving for and cheering on their competitors. Thank you to every band who showed gratitude and support toward one another this week!

Avon H.S. and Greendale H.S. share high fives before Greendale's performance at Grand Nationals on Thursday.

Avon H.S. and Greendale H.S. share high fives before Greendale's performance at Grand Nationals on Thursday.

2. Community

Community allows a band stand tall and proud. It's comprised of the parents who come to every event, the volunteers who pour their hearts into ensuring the band is fed, dressed, and safe. It's the neighbors cheering at parades, and the fans who dance with the band to stadium tunes.

It takes a village to raise a student, and it is heartwarming to see that village eliminate stereotypes, lend a hand long after their students have left the program, and even dress in the band's uniforms to support their kids (we saw you Avon parents!!). Community fosters a desire to "make them proud" and strive for excellence. 

Bands of America Grand National Championships finals competition at Lucas Oil Stadium.

In particular, we were awed by the support shown to a participating band by the team that is usually the focus of Friday nights. School spirit is a school-wide effort, but often times, the team doesn't have an opportunity to show their support for the group playing stand tunes, blasting the school song to points scored, and leading the charge at pep rallies.

Our hearts were inspired by the Milford H.S. representation at BOA. The football team and student section leaders drove all the way to Lucas Oil to support their band and cheer them on. They screamed pep tunes, wore band shirts, and represented their school in the BEST of ways (they even brought their mascot!).

Congratulations and thank you to all parents, volunteers, directors, administrators, and student peers who came out to support their students at Grand Nationals! You don't hear the thanks enough. We are grateful for the foundation on which you give students to soar!

3. Leadership

The passion we witnessed from each and every drum major was inspiring! These student leaders have helped their bands reach success in a myriad ways! From running sub sectionals, to acting as runners for staff and student members, to strengthening the art of motivational communication, these kids have gone above and beyond for their bands!

Student leadership means standing in the vulnerable and rewarding in-between of liaison for staff and student. They have earned their place on the podium by giving and receiving respect. They see, each and every day, the passion on their friends' faces.

Thank you to this year's drum majors for being stewards of your schools and for giving and expecting the best of those above and below you.

4. Collaboration

It's collaboration that makes marching band entirely unique. In band, 2 groups from different states and walks of life, who have NEVER MET, can practice the same music and perform together, giving all members a once in a lifetime opportunity.

In band, it's possible for design teams to combine their knowledge bases & experiences to create a show that our students can shine in. In band, groups can work together or extend a loving hand, knowing nothing about the other, to make a difference.

Thank you & congratulations to every design team for working hard for their kids & to every band who reached out to others in need. Special congratulations to United Sound & The Marching Southerners on their AMAZING joint prelims performance! You rocked the stadium!

5. Performance

Performance is the result of a "why" that drives a marcher's connection to their product. It happens when the brain understands the purpose behind the music, when the heart is tattooed with an experience that mimics the same, and when the soul chooses to share that feeling with a gathering of strangers. It is vulnerability and courage at it's finest. Performance is a beautiful combination of drive, passion, life experience, and the power of music. It's not wanting to let the people around you feel any less than their best because they and you are worth it. It's sharing a vehicle and a feeling without necessarily sharing the circumstance; it's empathy.

Performance happens when students have fun being where they are with the people around them; when they see the best from the competition; when their community steps up with them; when their leaders are servants to their success; and when they are given the opportunity to take ownership together. Performance is the gorgeous culmination of what it means to share an experience.

In 3 long days, we were witness to laughs, tears, anger, remembrance, honor, pride, silliness, and more. THANK YOU to every single performer for sharing your hearts with us.

Daring Greatly

Bands of America Grand National Championships preliminary competition at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Bands of America 2019 provided us with the opportunity to see the absolute best in the students we service. We are grateful for what this activity has the capacity to do, and the expectation of grit, determination, and perseverance it places on each performer. We are grateful to have been witness to the product of hard work, sweat, shortcoming, adversity, success, growth, passion, and excellence. Thank you for letting us share in your experience, and congratulations to every band that allowed themselves to be seen!

About the Author Danielle Lavrenz

Danielle Lavrenz lives for pageantry and the marching arts. Passionate about colorguard, she has marched since she was in 7th grade. She marched with the Morton High School band program for a total of 6 years, including 3 years in their circuit-level winterguard. She was a 4 year camper at the Music for All Summer Symposium and marched in the 2009 Bands of America Tournament of Roses Parade Honor Band. She went on to attend Murray State University, where she studied English Education, was an active member in the MSU Racer Band, and was devoted to her sisters in the Sigma Alpha Iota music fraternity. She marched with The Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps in 2010, 2011, and 2014 as well, earning a bronze and gold metal during her tenure. She has teched, choreographed, and directed for Marshall County High School, Calloway County High School, Bethel University, Morton High School, Waukesha North High School, and Greendale High School. Geier is a member of the DSI Marketing Team and currently resides in Waukesha, Wisconsin, where she teaches at Greendale High School. She is also a staff member at the Music For All Summer Symposium.

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