2011 Boot…I Mean BAND Camp

We have an amazing band director.  We hear a lot, “He’s doing an awesome job with those kids.”  But I personally think that sometimes we don’t realize how lucky we are to have Adam Steuart working with our kids.  He doesn’t fit the mold of your every day bad director.  It’s funny that I’m fixing to use this next phrase, because he’s a huge Star Trek fan.  He’s wanting, ready and willing to take these kids where “no band has gone before.”  He has a passion for making these kids into the best marching band that they can be, and nothing but being superior will do.  Not for him…..for THEM.  And he will use any tool that he can to drive them to excellence.

This year’s boot…I mean Band Camp has been AMAZING!!  We have been very blessed to have some incredible people come and instruct our students in marching fundamentals, musical technique, and drum line fundamentals and cadences.  When I was getting pictures and video while these men and women were teaching, I was just in awe.  They are truly artists at their crafts and it has been an honor for them to come and work this week.  I know this feeling is echoed by the band.

Working with the kids this year were: 

  • Fairview, OK band director Adrian Gomez, who was also a trumpet specialist for Crossman drum and bugle corps and was part of Phantom regiment drum and bugle corps 
  • Sarah Gomez, wife of Adrian, who is a woodwind and color guard specialist
  • Super amazing drum line instructor, Patrick McClung
  • Richard Stalcup, Assistant director for the Chisholm Stampede and trombone specialist
  • Color Guard instructor that goes above and beyond for her group of girls, Nicole Steuart

One of the biggest parts of camp is marching fundamentals.  Mr. Gomez really helped our kids improve their marching techniques, their horn carriage, and their postures while on the field.  While in the band room during the extremely hot part of the day, he helped them hone in on their playing techniques and their musical precision.  When the kids broke into sectionals, Mr. Gomez and Mr. Stalcup both worked with the trumpets and low brass, Patrick worked with the drum line, Mrs Gomez worked with the woodwinds and Nicole the color guard.  It was during these times that each section got some wonderful one on one with people at the top of the game.  It wasn’t just about working on the marching music.  It was about breathing technique, musical precision and fundamentals, about how to properly hold and play the drum sticks or mallets.

I want to stop right here and talk about the drum line for just a minute.  This line has gone through a huge change from last year to this year.  Last year’s snare drummer is now drum major.  One of the bass drummers from last year is now on snare.  We have 2 brand new bass drummers, and one of them played flute last year.  We also have 2 new cymbal players.  Patrick started working with them last Friday.  These kids have had 1 day off this week and have put in some major work and are doing an incredible job.  This is a direct reflection on the man working with them.  He drives them, encourages them, refuses to let them give up or give less than what he knows they are able to give, and then he pushes them to give more.  Not only has he worked with our drum line, he also worked with the Chisholm drum line as well.  I am so excited for everyone to hear this new drum line ROCK the stands this year.  I know they are going to make their coach very, VERY proud.

Our color guard line has 3 new members as well, and they too have been putting in a lot of hard work as they started last Friday.  Just as all the other instructors are amazing at what they do, Nicole is no exception.  She will not settle for less than awesome with these girls and pushes them just as the band is being pushed.  If you have never been a member of color guard, let me tell you, it’s a lot harder than it looks.  The angles of the flags as you are doing ANY move has to be precise, or everyone knows you’re off.  It’s not just teaching choreography to the girls and being done.  It’s a constant, ongoing work to make sure they hit every time, because if one person is a fraction off, the world knows.  Nicole amazes me, because she is gentle when she needs to be and firm when time calls for it, and she knows which she needs to be to get the results.

So, this brings me back to Mr. Steuart.  The past 2 years were awesome, they were fun and they have given a foundation for this band to grow.  I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that this year’s theme is “Super Heroes”.  This year’s band has a different feel, a different tone and is pushing boundaries they have never tried to cross before.  This is because of Mr. Steuart and his dedication, his drive, his passion for not just band, but for turning the students into the best marching musicians this state has to offer.  He’s not willing to stay in the box and just settle for what they think is their best.  He has a vision for this band program that extends beyond what any of us were thinking, and I for one am excited and SO ON BOARD with his vision.  I keep thinking of the movie “Drum Line”.  I see our kids at that level under his direction.  I see this program growing each year under his leadership.  I see The Pride of Hennessey becoming one of the biggest band names in the state of Oklahoma because of his not willing to compromise, sacrifice or become stagnant by staying in the box.  And you know where it starts???




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!

The Merry-Go-Round

I want to start this post by saying in the midst of being exhausted and burning both ends of the candle, I am so thrilled to be able to do what I am doing.  Even though my brain feels like it’s on a merry-go-round and I can’t get off of it, the end result of it all makes every ounce of what I put into my days worthwhile.

I used to think that I would just be coming into the busiest time of the year for me.  May is the magical month of the year in which we get to step out of our time and back into 16th century England, the time of King Henry the VIII.  Following the whirlwind of festival, we then jump head first into fireworks sales there at the Castle.  This last year has re-defined “busiest time of year” and has changed that to…..there is NO non busy time of year for me.  I am by no means complaining.  While I have had isolated moments of wanting to pull my hair out, this has been one of the most fulfilling years EVER!

The cycle is now made up primarily of band related events, but if you have met the kids we have the honor of getting to work with and for then you know that it is just as much fun as it is work.  And there is TONS of work.  So, the year cycle for me starting from today, April, 13th is as follows:

Tomorrow we will work with the HS band on special effects lighting during first hour, get advertising decorating done at all 3 schools, and work on painting reserved seating stars.

Monday the 25th is the Band Banquet.

May 28-30 Tri-State  solos and parade!!  This is also opening weekend of Festival in which this will be the first time we’ve missed it in 5 years…sad face..but again, the trade off is one that I wouldn’t give up.  SO all our Ren family!  May you have the most amazing opening weekend EVER!!!!

May 2nd – Band Booster Meeting!  Anyone wishing to support the band is welcome to come be a part!

May 9th- “Blue Carpet Movie Event” spring concert.  We will be missing the 2nd weekend of festival as we are hoping to be able to decorate the Sunday before and there is NO way I can do a full weekend of festival and drive back to do this concert.  Of course, there will be dress rehearsals mixed in between some of these dates, so that we have all of our ducks in a row and the show goes off killer and without a hitch.  I also have several more commercials to work up before this date to play during the concert as well.

May 12th – MS Awards Assembly and 8th grade graduation.  Well, it’s finally arrived.  I am fixing to have 3 kids in high school…. SIGH…  There is also the after graduation party at the river that afternoon.

May 14-15th – FESTIVAL WEEKEND!! WOO HOO!!! Can NOT wait to see everyone!

May 17th last day of school

May 19th – My niece graduates from Okeene!! YAY Tori! So proud of you!

May 21-22 – Festival weekend #2!! YAY!

May 23-26th – Mini Band Camp!  If you have a child pre-k thru 6th they are welcome to come be a part of that.  The cost is $30 until the 15th and then the price goes up to $40.  Gonna be a great time.  Don’t miss out!

Memorial Day Weekend – There is a mud bog that Saturday and the Boosters will be providing concessions.  Final weekend of Festival….hope we can make that!

First week of June – K101 Classic Bowl in Woodward with the game being June 4th

June 5th…head to Muskogee to get ready to work fireworks

Junish-July7this- Fireworks setup, sales, and inventory

Weekend of July 9th – head back home

July 22-30 Drumline, color guard and band camp … also mix in my anniversary 19 years this year!!! ❤ you Babe!!

July 31, my birthday

August starts school and marching season which will run into at least November

OCTOBER!!!!  If you know us, you know we are Halloween FANATICS!  We will have at least 1 Halloween party during the month….as the twins birthday is that month, we haven’t decided if we will be having a combined band/birthday party or 1 for each

December….Christmas Concert

January-April – Solo contests, Spring Concert, Tri-State, Prom, etc, etc

Now, in the midst of all these summer/fall dates, there is so much work that will be going into those time frames. Props have to be built, uniforms fit and altered, meals provided for clinicians and students during camp, keeping them hydrated and sunblocked, etc.  We also have Booster meetings in the midst of all these months.

Am I exhausted?  Without a doubt.  Do I sometimes feel that I do no have a creative thought or idea left…undeniably.  Would I give up even a second?  Not a chance.  You see, the greatest reward and inspiration that is keeping me driving headlong in helping make each moment of band greater than the one before was seeing  the reactions of the younger band students and talking with them.  Seeing how eager they are to be a part of the band program as they get older.  To know that they are valued and looked at with equal importance as the HS band students are.  To see them and listen to them and hear their excitement ….. THEY are the investment.  THEY are the reward that makes every moment worthwhile.  THEY are the BAND.  And there is nothing more valuable or worth investing in than they are.


The Band Parent

You Know You are A Band Parent When. . . .

  • You make three more trips than expected to drop off you child with everything they need.
  • You carry spare white gloves, needle and thread, safety pins, black socks and duct tape in your pocketbook.
  • You follow buses around all day on Saturdays
  • You can’t pick your child out of the crowd because they all look alike.
  • You no longer speak of your child as a fourteen-year-old daughter/son, but as a “freshman trumpet, freshman flute,” etc.
  • You prominently display a band calendar in the kitchen, have band dates marked on the calendar in your purse and/or have the Band Hotline Number on your speed dial.
  • You use your oven more for baking goodies for bake sales during home football games or treats, than for sit-down meals.
  • You know that you will be wearing something blue and white every Friday night and on Saturdays.
  • Early is on time and on time is late.
  • You don’t leave home without cushions to sit on, camera and camcorder!
  • You are cheering with other band parents.


This is ohhhh so true.  And actually very minimal as this just hits on marching season and doesn’t even touch concert season and contests.  BUT to all you band parents out there, thank you for all of your hard work and dedication to whatever band you support.  If you are not a band parent, but love the band, we welcome you as a fellow booster who supports these amazing kids and their awesome directors and you are more than welcome to attend our Band Booster meetings to be a part of what’s going on with the band!

Tired of the Back Burner

I find it only safe to warn you, I have put on my “angry eyes” to write this post.  I am climbing up onto the soapbox and am going to get a few thoughts out of my head and translated to paper…or computer in this case.  Please keep in mind as you read this, these are my personal feelings and thoughts about this topic and not that of the band or its director.  I’m not saying they do or don’t agree with me, I’m just making it clear ahead of time, this is all coming from ME and no one else.  Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, and if you haven’t hit the back button, let us proceed to the rant, shall we.

Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE football.  I mean, I am a huge Steelers fan unquestionably, and because of this, I may have some of you call me a hypocrite, and that’s fine.  If you feel that way, it’s your right to.  And while I understand that NFL players stem from our colleges, thus from our high schools, please keep what I am saying in perspective and that everything I am talking about is on a primary (in this case 5-12) level.

When did we become a society that is all about modern day gladiators and so little about culture?  We live in the Coliseum of a modern day Rome cheering on our favorite gladiators and we care little for what the Michelangelos, Leonardos, Mozarts and Beethovens have to offer us.  When did sports start defining our culture?

I am by no means and anti-sports person.  Like I said, I’m a HUGE Steelers fan, HOWEVER, I find it disturbing that on the educational level we place so much importance on sports and so little on our arts programs.  Now, I’m going to make this down right personal, and if I offend any Hennessey football players or parents, I ask you to try to look at this from the flip side.  I am very proud of our football team for taking state for the first time ever, BUT how many more times are we going to honor them?  My youngest son just went to solo contest and got a superior rating, pluses in ALL AREAS of his solo and ALL positive comments from the judges.  Will he be recognized by anyone other than his director, his class mates and his parents?  Doubtful, as I heard a rumor that for the awards assembly THE ARTS AWARDS ARE BEING CUT DO TO TIME.  Now, you tell me WHY is not only his 1 rating, but every student who got a 1, which was 12 total, WHY ARE THESE STUDENTS NOT RECOGNIZED LIKE THE SPORTS STUDENTS ARE??   Why is it when budget cuts are mentioned, you NEVER hear about ANY of the sports organizations in that conversation.  My personal though is, if you’re gonna cut programs funding…….make it an even cut across the board.  Don’t just take from some students …. students who are working towards scholarships in band or music.  If you’re going to take money from one, take some from all.

We need to stop sending our kids the message of “If you’re not into sports, you’re nobody.”  Please, don’t try to deny that this mindset doesn’t exist.  It was there when I was in school, and I heard it everyday.  It is there today, and I have heard it from my own child, wondering why.  My kids are “band nerds” and proud of it.  They are part of an amazing group that is teaching them so much more than just “band”.  They are learning skills they need for life.

I was thinking about what we see on TV…and if you think about it, there are so many music related shows out there, and we’re all drawn to them.  “American Idol”, “Glee”,  “The Sing Off“, “The Jonas Brothers”, “Hannah Montana”, “Lemonade Mouth” and so on.  When you get in your car, what do you listen to?  I’ll bet some form of music.  Kids are excited about music!  They want to be a part.  Check out this link for some percentages http://www.wannaplaymusic.com/harris-poll-2010/back-school-survey-shows-%E2%80%98glee%E2%80%99-%E2%80%98camp-rock-2%E2%80%99-fuel-kids%E2%80%99-desire-learn-and-make-musi

We should be fighting to keep our music programs strong.  We should be letting it be known from our school boards, to our state board, to the federal level that it is so important that we keep our arts programs in our schools.  For some of our students it so much more than an extra curricular activity, it’s the very air they breathe.  Just come meet some of our band students, and you’ll see what I mean.  Music …..music is life.