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.

 

 

A Strong Foundation


A marching band is like a house.  Your percussion and low brass or bases (tuba, baritone, trombone, baritone saxophone and alto clarinet) make up your foundation.  Your supporting voices, (alto and tenor saxophones, clarinet and horn or mellophone) make up your support structure and walls, while your high voices and melody (trumpet and flute) make up your roof.  It takes all levels of this structure working together to make sure the house is a strong unit, but if it’s not built on a solid foundation, your building isn’t going to stand.

The Mama Cross Featured Section Of The Week is one of the two that provide the band’s solid foundation, and does this with only four members:  the Low Brass. 

Allow me to introduce to you tuba player and section leader RJ Schmidt and trombone players Brenden Cross, Tyler Lott and Sadie Schmidt.

This small section plays so much larger than life, the average person wouldn’t guess that there were 3 boys and 1 girl providing all that full, powerful sound.  But playing is only part of the story.  On the field as well as on the street, these four work hard to strive for excellence in their marching, posture and horn carriage.  In the football stands they will pump you up and get you energized with their enthusiastic dancing.  They are committed, focused and driven to be the very best that they can be.  Brenden summed this up when he told me, “Being a trombone player is not just what I do, it’s part of who I am.”  Without a doubt, these four very talented kids are just some of the shining gems in the Pride of Hennessey’s crown.

While all four of these students are amazing, only one could be picked for outstanding section member, and that person is our lone female trombonist Sadie Schmidt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sadie made the transition back into playing an instrument this marching season as she was a member of the 2010 award winning color guard.  In watching her march, seeing her posture and her horn angles, as well as hearing her play, you wouldn’t know this was her rookie year in the low brass section.  From her heart, Sadie wants to be at the top of the game and bring the best performance she can.  Sometimes this isn’t an easy feat as her section leader is also her older brother.  While at times it seems he is pushing her to the extreme, I know he is glowing with pride at how well she does and tries to pull every drop of greatness out of her.

Sadie is a member of this year’s 8th grade class.  Some of her favorites include:  Macaroni and Cheese, the color forest green, hiking and swimming.  Her favorite people include her sister Lily, whom Sadie says “takes up for her and understands how she feels,” and the twins (Brenden and Tristan Cross) who are “always nice and usually have positive attitudes for everything.”

Saide also loves spring and with her enjoyment of learning about other people, she lists History as her favorite subject in school.  She also loves Christmas as “it is a time to give back” and she goes with a friend to her church who goes to the Sequoya House in Enid, OK to help give out presents, provide a meal and to spend time with the people there.

In regards to The Pride, Sadie says, “It’s amazing to be a part of something as cool as this,” and she looks at the band as family.  While generally a very quiet person, Sadie has a big heart and strives to make Mr. Steuart proud of her performances.  She can rest well, knowing that he is indeed proud of her and extremely happy to have her as a part of his low brass section.  Make no mistake, Sadie is a strong part of the Pride’s foundation and this band mom looks forward to watching her shine!!

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!

Seeing Orange

We always want to believe that it will never happen to us or someone that we are close to.  But the hard honest truth is, cancer is no respecter of person.  Facts are, someone dear to everyone connected to the band is back on the front lines of that battlefield.  Stronger fact is, he is not alone, he has an army of people standing with him, praying for him.

Bradley is not just Mr Steuart’s assistant, or just the bus driver, or just a photographer.  Bradley is an amazing individual who goes out of his way to make sure that things within the band are running smoothly, who is constantly helping within his church, and who is a true friend to everyone he comes in contact with.  He is one of the greatest people that you will ever meet, and I hope he knows how well he is thought of and how much he is appreciated.

I hope that every person who takes the time to read this will post an orange ribbon on their facebook page and take a moment to make a post of encouragement on Bradley’s.  And Bradley, if you are reading this, I just want to extend a personal thank you for all the work that you have done day in and day out to help make the Pride of Hennessey a better band.  You are an important factor in the equation for greatness.  May you get well soon and be back with us as soon as you are able.

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???

BAND CAMP!!!!