Haromny in Diversity

Before I started band in the 5th grade, I knew that I was going to be a woodwind player.  I knew exactly which woodwind that I would play.  I fell in love with the saxophone and no one was going to change my mind about it.  The woodwinds are made up of such a diverse group of instruments.  The flute and piccolo, the clarinets along with their alto and bass counterparts, the bassoon and oboe, which are double reed horns and not easy to play and your variety of saxophones, soprano, alto, tenor and baritone.  In my career, I played both alto and tenor and loved them both.

 

This week’s Mama Cross section of the week is built from two of these unique instruments, the clarinets and the alto saxophones.  The Pride of Hennessey has three awesome alto sax players in Matthias Cross, Danny Pacula and Malina Lemmons.  Matthias and Danny, both being seniors this year, are defiantly closing out their final high school year on a high, being part of an incredible and unique group of not just woodwinds, but students that make up the entire band.  The Pride can also brag about having an extremely strong clarinet line this year, made up of Kyla Hobson, Becca Hill, Kaylee Ellison, Amber Pacula, Lacy Tarrant, and Makayah Pearson.  These nine students have laid a strong support and melodic atmosphere to the band’s sound.  Having this many strong instrumentalists in a section makes it hard to focus on just one to highlight, but this week’s featured woodwind is without a doubt a strong leader, and always has an upbeat and fun outlook.  Clarinet player Kyla Hobson aka Mega Sparkles.

Kyla is a freshman this year whose favorite colors include lime green and royal blue.  Her favorite food is her mother’s home made chicken and noodles.  She loves country music and hip hop and the movie “Paul”.  More of her personal faves include the book “Unwind”, the number 21 and her Hennessey Eagles and OSU Cowboys.  A few of her best friends are Malina (Super Sour), Shelby (Super Ninja) and Kalie Choate (Blue C), but from what I have observed, she is friends with everyone and has one of the sweetest dispositions in a person, always smiling and encouraging those around her.  Her favorite holiday is Halloween because she loves to go the band Halloween party at Zombie House.

Kyla is a true musician who excels not just in band, but in piano as well.  Regarding band, she believes that it is not a class that you join for just an easy grade.  You work hard to be the best you can be.  Due to the Pride’s dedication, she has had people tell her that the band kids have “so much motivation and determination in what they do and can see this band going places and reaching goals”.  Band has help to show her what leadership looks like and has inspired her to show leadership as well.  When she switches gears to piano, it’s not a major switch as piano takes a lot of work, concentration and hand eye coordination.  Every Wednesday finds her at piano lessons and it frustrates her when people try to tell her that piano is easy.  In her journey through piano she has discovered that it “makes her feel good inside and that she knows she is doing it for her and not to please anyone else”.  Her dedication to piano is a true testament to the type of person she is, because she finds ways to motivate herself to practice in the midst of weekday softball practice, evening band rehearsals, piano practice on Wednesdays and football games on Fridays.  Throw in competitions, homework and time with family and friends, this shows how dedicated this 14 year old is to everything she is involved in.

While already an inspiration herself, encouraging people to never quit and always try their hardest,  Kyla draws from inspiration from her family as they keep her going through the hard times and will always be there to pick her up when she falls.  Her role model is her mother Holly, how has shown her that life isn’t easy, but sometimes you have to take those challenges and turn them into something better.  She is also very thankful for the Pride of Hennessey’s directors, Adam Steuart, Nicole Steuart, Bradley Gilbert and Patrick McClung who have taken a band of 15 and grown in to 35 in just 3 short years, always driving the students to get stronger and stronger, helping them to achieve becoming OBA Class 2A State Champions this year.  Her favorite quotes include:

“If you don’t believe in your section, they won’t believe in themselves.”

“The first two quarters of the football game are just the entertainment before the half time show.”

“Don’t tell me the sky is the limit when there are footsteps on the moon.”  – This is a quote that I know Kyla will tune her life to, one that will continue to help define who she is now, and who she will become.  A young woman who is always reaching, striving and continuing to make the best out her life and the situations that life throws at her, as well as helping others to reach and strive for greatness in their own lives.  She is without a doubt an inspiration to me and worthy of all magnificence that comes her way.  She is a person who will continue to bring harmony in a diverse world.

The Road To A Championship

The road to a championship is not an easy one. It is filled with sweat, tears, injury and heartache. At times it is filled with disappointment, yelling and more pushups than you would care to count. Coupled with all of this is determination, pride, self discovery and victory.

The Pride of Hennessey has experienced all of this and more on their journey to Jenks.

If you didn’t know, this is a band that is made up of students starting in 7th grade through 12th grade.  So to say this is a very young band is hitting the nail on the head.  Some of these kids learned how to march this year, are playing music on a difficulty far above what their grade dictates they should be, and some have learned an instrument from the ground up.  They have faced adversity, knowing their assistant director is fighting cancer.  They have risen before the sun, marched in the dark and have done it all with one prize on their minds:  Marching in finals and winning State in class 2A at the OBA marching championships.

This season kicked off in the end of July with band camp.  This is where these band students started getting their minds and their bodies in shape for the marching season to come.  If you have never been part of a marching band, then you won’t know that it is as much of a sport as football or basketball.  Your body has to be conditioned and to be able to endure holding an instrument in certain positions for long periods of time.  You have to stand at attention and not move, showing massive self control.  And then, you have to be able to play that instrument, keeping your pitch in tune, hitting all the right notes, and maintaining specific angles with that horn.  All of this also applies to the color guard, who have a daunting task in controlling their flags, no matter if the day is peaceful, or if Mother Nature brings on massive winds.

While preparing for Jenks, this journey has taken the Pride to many football games, most of them away games on Friday nights, and different contests on not only Saturdays, but some weekdays as well.  And while we would like to say that it has been victorious every step of the way, that hasn’t been the case.  But in this band mom’s opinion, not being victorious all the time is where this band has built it’s character from.  It’s what stirs them to reach deep inside themselves and bring out the best from within.  Taking 3rd at the Perry Parade and with only our Color Guard placing at the OKC State Fair Parade showed these kids that it’s not given to you, it’s earned.  That you can’t just show up and expect to win, you have to show up and leave it all on the street or field.  After two parade competitions, it was time to bring it to the field at Putnam City.  This would be the first OBA contest the Pride would march in.  Not only were they the only band in their class, they were the smallest band in the competition. But this little band went out there and showed them the super heroes that live within them and took out a 5A band, placing 10th.  Their next contest would be in Konawa.  After finishing up with the ball game the night before, the band had to be at the band room at 4:45am to head out for both parade and field competition.  Being an OSSAA contest they are listed in the small 3a category for field.  This year, the Pride turned it up as they took 3rd overall in parade, which is 2 rankings higher than last year.  The Color Guard took outstanding for the 2nd year in a row for parade, and the Pride defended their 1st place for field by capturing it for the 2nd year in a row.  With only a few days until the next contest and a hardcore practice, the Pride set off for Tri-State in Enid the following Tuesday.  This would be another self defining moment for the Pride as they were competing more against themselves to do better than the Excellent (2) rating they received last year than against the other bands in their class.  When the awards were announced, the Pride was the only band lower than class 6a to receive a Superior (1) rating this year.  These are the few weeks leading up to the goal that was set at the beginning of the year for this band.  To go into Jenks and to make finals at OBA Championships.

Saturday, October 8th came very early after an away game at Chisholm.  After a very long bus trip, the band had to be ready to bring their A game to the field at 10:30 am.  The wind was beyond horrible, right before they were to take the field, the judges on the field had issues with their recorders, the Pride was the rookie band….it seemed the cards were stacked against them.  But then, when they took the field, the wind died down some, and our little band stepped onto the field like giants and OWNED the performance that mattered the most.  And when the preliminaries were over, and the dust had settled, not only did the Pride make finals, but took the awards for High Visual, High General Effect and most important, became the 2011 OBA State 2A Marching Band Champions.  At the end of the day, The Pride placed 12th out of 22 bands and was the only 2A band to make finals, the first in many, many years.

It would be nice to say that this is where the story ends.  They won State, they’re all done, but they aren’t done.  This coming Wednesday, the Pride travels to Alva for OSSAA Regional Marching contest, will continue to cheer on the Hennessey Eagle football team every Friday and on November 2nd will travel to Lawton for the final field marching competition of the season.  They will continue to pursue excellence in their sport, because it’s not over till it’s over, but as they continue on, they can hold their heads high and proclaim, “We are the Champions, my friend.”

 

**UPDATE**  The Wednesday following State, the Pride traveled to Alva for OSSAA Regional Marching Contest.  Not only did the band receive a Superior (1) rating, they swept with all 1’s from the judges.  After completing the field show, the Color Guard had solo and ensemble competition.  Vanise von Shultes and Rebecca Roberts both received a Superior (1) on their solos and the Guard was awarded a Superior on their ensemble as well.

Blow Your Own Trumpet

If you wish in this world to advance your merits you’re bound to enhance; you must stir it and stump it, and blow your own trumpet, or, trust me, you haven’t a chance. ~ William S. Gilbert

It never ceases to amaze me how easy trumpet players make their craft seem.  When you hear a clear blast from that horn, hear a well blended sound of 1st and 2nds, or hear a single bugle player play “Taps”, it gives you chills and you don’t think of the hours that it takes to perfect the sound that comes from that horn.  I live with a trumpet player, and I have seen the work, the effort, the frustrations and the joy that comes from being a trumpet player.

This week, it’s the trumpet section’s turn to “toot their own horn”. (Yeah, I know, very bad pun, but it seem appropriate.)  This section is nine times out of ten at the forefront of the band.  They are the strong melody makers and when they are not in the spotlight, they are a strong supporting factor within the sound of the band.  We are so lucky to have a dedicated trumpet line.  They work very hard to be the best that they can be because they are on the front lines….quite literally in the “Superman” drill.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the amazing things about The Pride of Hennessey trumpet line is that we have 3 veterans and 3 rookies marching this season.  If you have heard the music for this year’s show and have seen the drill, then you will know that this is not an easy marching year.  Our trumpets are holding their own and doing a great job at nailing their parts to make this year’s marching show such a success.   When you have 3 Jr High kids in such a noticeable section, motivation and encouragement is a big thing, and our highlighted trumpet player isn’t just a motivation to her section, but to the rest of the band as well.  I would like to introduce you to Sophomore trumpeter Shelby Crump.

Shelby, aka Super Ninja is a truly amazing young woman. Some of her favorites include the colors purple, yellow and royal blue, country music, fruit,  and the number 26.  Her favorite movie is “Despicable Me”, and is a huge Hennessey Eagle and OU fan.  Her favorite sport, softball is a huge factor in her life.  Starting with Tee Ball at the age of four, Shelby has made a home on the softball field, having played both catcher and third base.  After a knee injury, she now solely plays third base, but is in the process of learning how to pitch.

In the process of finding out a little more about Shelby, it showed her dedication to band when she shared of her favorite quotes with me.  “What are those football players doing on the band field?!”  She joined band in 6th grade, but dropped after that year, until in 8th grade a friend of hers talked her into picking it back up.  That was the first year Mr. Steaurt came to Hennessey.  This was the year her life really started to change.  Being an 8th grader, she wasn’t a part of the marching band yet, but did help carry the banner for the parade competitions, got yelled at by Peter VanGee for taking too small or large of steps, and got to travel to Washington D.C. with the band, where they took 1st in the parade.  This started a bonding process with the band, which is now a family.  Her freshman year, she started learning proper marching, progressed in her playing ability and knew band was a very important and fun part of her life.  Now a sophomre, she plays 1st trumpet, is a co-section leader and is 110% dedicated to The Pride.  Her second home is the band room and she is more often than not hanging out with her fellow “band nerds”.    She is so proud of everything that the band does, and is so thankful to everyone who helps make the program so successful. (Mr. Steuart, Nicole, Bradley and Patrick.)  Shelby says, “They are the ones who built our spirit, dedication, teamwork and PRIDE.  We work hard to be who we are and it all pays off.  There are people who look up to us and we never had that until now.  We thank them so much for that.  Band has made me who I am today.  I have learned so much through band and made so many great friends.  I have learned what strength, dedication, success, fun and Pride really mean.  I don’t know what I would do with my life if I didn’t have band.  It puts a smile on my face everyday no matter what.  I look forward to the upcoming years in band and carrying on our tradition!  BAND, THE SKY IS THE LIMIT … DREAM BIG!!  TOGETHER WE MADE IT!”

Shelby’s band goals include:  Progressing in her playing and marching as much as possible, becoming a great section leader next year and helping the trumpets as much as she can, becoming a great role model for the younger marchers, winning as many competitions as possible, and WINNING STATE! Possibly becoming drum major her senior year, but most of all making the last few years the best she can.

Her future goals include:  Attending NWOSU after graduation and being in the Ranger band, possibly playing softball then transferring to OU or OSU after finishing her basics, with the hopes of being in the medical field, possibly a doctor or pediatrician.

It is so awesome to have such amazing and dedicated students in our band.  It’s even more amazing to have students that are not just about being the best that they can be, but encouraging their band mates to be the best they can be as well.  And while The Pride may only have six trumpet players, I think it’s safe to say they are a melodic force to be reckoned with and very worthy to be the Mama Cross section of the week.

 

 

My Heroes Are Band Kids

It’s not a coincidence that this year’s marching theme is “Super Heroes”.  During band camp each student chose their own super hero name and have been working hard to capture the spirit of Superman, Batman and Spiderman on the field.  And while we may think that it takes super strength or flying to be a super hero it might surprise you to know that all it really takes is to have a compassionate heart.  The students who make up The Pride of Hennessey not only showed that compassion, but also dedication, honor and as it states in their name, pride.

Right now, the band is going through a difficult time learning to deal with and understand the hardship that Bradley is going through.  Not only is this a hard path for Brad, but it is for the Pride as well.  It’s not an easy thing to grasp, understanding what it means for someone you care for so much to have cancer.  Not at the age of 13…..not at the age of 30.  And in the middle of all the emotions, these kids are trying to stay focused to not only keep up with their school work and sports they are also trying nail down a field show and parade marching technique.  And they are doing this without a key member of the team.  Lingering in the back of their minds while trying to focus on their daily routine is the fact that their friend is lying in a hospital bed fighting an extremely hard fight.

So now, I’m going to brag on these students just a little bit.  Last Saturday the Pride had their first contest of the season in Perry.  After they got home, they were right back at the band room in the evening, watching film and then hitting the street for more practice.  But that’s not all they did.  Every section recorded a get well message for Bradley, and every student in each section sent him a message letting him know how much he means to them and that they hope he gets well soon.  And through the power of this wonderful invention called the internet and facebook, Bradley was able to see those videos the very next day.  The following Monday, the band traveled to the State Fair to compete in the parade, and while the competition didn’t turn out as favorable as the band would have liked, that performance was NOT the most important one of the day.  That afternoon, the Pride went to OU Medical Center to visit with Bradley and perform for him.  And while he has heard the songs many times, I’m sure that THIS time was, pardon the pun, music to his ears and the most amazing and wonderful performance he had heard this group of kids perform.  Adding to how special the event was, Channel 9 news made this the story of the day and Channel 4 showed up at the hospital as well.  This performance meant as much to the kids as it did to Bradley.

True super heroes come in the form of woodwinds, brass players, percussionists and color guard teams.  They also come in the form of band directors and everyday people who show compassion to those in need of it.  We can’t fix the situation, and we can’t be in Oklahoma City every day, BUT we CAN keep posting notes of encouragement on a facebook page.  We can record a video and upload it to youtube.  We can tie an orange ribbon on the antenna of our car and wear one as a symbol that Bradley is not fighting cancer alone.  Most of all we can pray for our friend.  It doesn’t take a super power to make a super hero.  It takes a compassionate heart, and I’m so proud to be a band mom of so many awesome super heroes hailing from Pride High!

Pride Starts Here

It has been an amazing roller coaster of a week.  Monday – Thursday we held our first annual Pride of Hennessey Mini Band Camp for students pre-k – 7th grade.  What an amazing experience and I believe that I can say that from the perspective of the adults and high school kids who worked the camp, as well as the campers themselves.

The campers got to experience several different aspects of being in marching band.  They learned to words to the school fight song and alma mater,  mini flags, baton, drums, marching and marching commands, as well as playing music related games.  Every time that Drum Major Cody Riggs or Band Director Mr. Steuart would yell out “Band, ATTENTION!”  “PRIDE” rang out from every student in the building and everyone down to the littlest pre-k girl came to attention.

In the midst of all of the fun that we were having, disaster struck our state when several deadly tornadoes ravaged the Sooner State.  Showing Hennessey Pride, the students brought different needed items to band camp on it’s final day to be loaded in the band trailer, which we took to Piedmont, OK to help with disaster relief.

I can not even begin to describe the horrific sight we saw as we drove down the north side of Piedmont road.  A sobering hush came over the entire car as we all looked out over what used to be peoples homes.  It really struck home how fragile life really is, how blessed we are to draw every breath we take and how there is nothing more important than caring for our fellow human beings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While this week may have brought out the worst in Mother Nature, it brought out the best in our community and in our kids.  It truly was an incredible week.  I am really looking forward to next year’s camp because I just know that it is going to be bigger and better than we can even hope to imagine.  To all of our parents who helped all this week, thank you so very much!!  To our high school band helpers, you guys did a great job and were excellent role models for the younger kids.  To our campers, YOU are the Pride.  YOU are where it starts, and YOU were A-MA-ZING all this week!!!!

 

 

 

And The Oscar Goes To…….

Monday night was beyond what I hoped it would be.  The bands, the effects, the audience…it was AMAZING!!!!!  I have to say, if you missed the Blue Carpet Movie Event, you missed the show of the year!!

Bands- and I mean 4th -12th…  You guys ROCKED MY WORLD!!!  I can not begin to tell you how very proud of you all that I am.  Each band owned the stage when they were on it.  You all worked so hard and brought your A game to the stage.  You showed us all what it means to be a star.  To all the seniors, what a way to close out your Sr year!  I am so proud of you guys.  You have shown such great leadership to the younger students all year, and last night was no exception.

Mr. Steuart, I want to say thank you for letting me run with my imagination and make it a reality.  You truly inspire your students to be the very best that they can be, to make band a passion and fun, to inspire pride and excellence.  I can not put into words what it means to me as a parent for the investment that you make into not only my children, but every child who is in one of your classes.  I look forward to next year and outdoing ourselves!!!

I am almost at a loss for words on how to even begin to describe Monday night.  Now that it’s over, it’s so bittersweet for me.  I am relieved that it is over simply because of how tired I am.  I am sad that it is because of how fun and wonderful the night went.  I was so scared there would be so many hick-ups and miscues and that the show would not come together…..I was so wrong.  It could not have gone better!

This has to have been the most amazing way to close out the school year.  It’s a night that will live on in my memory forever!!

Pre Show Jitters

Normally, I wouldn’t be up at 1am writing, but then my life has become anything but what you would consider normal.  Due to my husband’s job requirements when the phone goes off in the middle of the night and he has to go out, it makes it hard for me to go back to sleep.  Normally I would like in bed until sleep washed back over me but tonight….well, there’s more on my mind than just sleep.

In approximately 18 hours, the Hennessey bands will be putting on their spring concert production “Blue Carpet Movie Event” and I think I have enough pre show jitters  for everyone in the 4th-12th grade bands.  I have no doubts about how the bands will perform.  They do an amazing job.  My concern is if everything else is going to come together to enhance their performances.  Will all of the lighting and effects run smoothly?  Will we get the commercials set up to air?  Will the decorations all look as they should?  Will it come together the way that we have envisioned it to?  Oh, I hope so.  But not for the reasons you may think.  As much as we want to wow the crowd with the production, I want the bands to be wowed even more.  I want them to know that while, yes we did this to entertain the crowd, we have done all of what we are doing for THEM.  To showcase them.  And in all honesty, my greatest fear is letting THEM down.

We have a band program that is turning into something that is nothing short of amazing.  We have a director who has a passion not just for music, but for TEACHING music and helping his students become the best musicians they can possibly become.  He is dedicated to not just the band as a whole, but to the individuals who make up that whole.  We have students who are hard working and some who are just beyond dedicated.  I mean, I have to give a shout out to one of our trumpet players who when she got back from State Track Meet (and our girls won State!!!) she came straight to dress rehearsal.  We have younger students who want to shine as brightly as our high school band members.  We have parents who are coming together to support this band and want to help them achieve greatness.   This is a program that I am thrilled and honored to get to be a part of and associated with.

Tuesday I will try to have a follow up post about how the concert went.  I hope to have lots of pictures and video to share, because everyone has been waiting for this night to get here for a long time.  It’s going to be a night to remember!