Some band parents just can't quit serving once they find their niche
by Tom Arneberg, Community Columnist
"LISTEN UP! We're going to play a new game," bellowed band director Brian Collicott to the assembled masses in the cafeteria a couple of Sunday mornings ago. "This game is called 'Bus One Does Not Work.'"
Fortunately, several students had gone home with parents who had driven down to University of Wisconsin-Whitewater to watch the State Marching Band competition the night before. That, coupled with some band staff members who had some extra seats in their own vehicles, freed up enough space so we could all squeeze into four buses.
I was a lucky guy. I got to share a seat with my beautiful wife and co-chaperone, of course. But in the seat right in front of us was Marla Brown, working on her AP Calculus homework. I love that stuff! I even got a close-up photo of her equations for the CFMA web page.
Right across the aisle was another band student, Kyra Sommerfeld. Not only does Kyra play six different instruments, she came armed with a Rubik's Cube. And she knows how to use it -- she can solve it in a minute with no memorized moves!
But I digress. I really wanted to devote this column to some of the support workers of the marching band, but I get sidetracked when I think of math and puzzles. (My wife claims I have Attention Deficit Disorder, but I think that's nonsense.) (Oh, did I tell you about our pet mice?)
Anyway, I wrote last year about the amazing dedication of the band staff -- mostly former Marching Cardinals and current college students who help our band to perfect its art.
But in addition to the musical aspect, there are some practical considerations in going on the road for a weekend with over 200 people. It's one thing to have parents who volunteer their time as chaperones -- but what about parents who keep doing it even after their kids graduate?
One such parent is Dan Meyer. His son Seth, now in Iraq, was in the marching band 2002-2005. In Seth's sophomore year, at a meeting of CFMA -- Chippewa Falls Music Association, the "music boosters" organization for Chi-Hi -- Dan heard about a need for a cook.
He jumped at the chance. Dan loves teens, and loves to cook. For the past five years now, he has been the Head Chef creating delicacies on a budget for hundreds of people on weekend trips. Many parents help with cooking, but Dan is the main man who steers the food ship.
It's a labor of love. Dan says he'd like to be a professional chef, except that all those jobs require working evenings and weekends. That's something he doesn't want to do -- unless it's for the marching band.
When Seth graduated in 2006, Dan did not hesitate to volunteer to continue his cooking for the band the next fall, even though he was no longer a band parent that year. Seth's brother Adam joined the band this fall, but that's just icing on the cake -- Dan would've just kept cooking anyway, kids in band or not.
That's exactly what happened to another band dad, Richard Adrian. Richard himself played saxophone in the Chi-Hi marching band in the class of 1966.
When Richard's son Robert joined the band in 1994, Richard heard director Doug Greenhalgh commenting at the August Parents' Night that the old panel truck used to haul equipment needed some major work, including a new motor.
A few years later, Pevan and some others donated a trailer to the marching band. You may have seen the trailer in the Chi-Hi or Middle School parking lot with "Marching Cardinals" proudly emblazoned on the side.
Now, in addition to hauling equipment, that truck carries uniforms and even functions as a portable changing room.
Richard's son graduated in 1998, but Richard still drove the big rig the following year for all of the Cards' out-of-town weekend competitions. "What else would they do?", he explains. Semi truck drivers with their own cab are not common among band parents.
Now, NINE YEARS after his son graduated, he is STILL driving that big semi all over the area, four weekends each season. He doesn't get a penny for his time. He just wants to help the kids and the band.
Kudos to key behind-the-scenes guys like Dan Meyer and Richard Adrian for serving with all their heart in their niche, even when their kids are gone. They make it possible for the rest of us to focus on the task at hand -- whether it's rehearsing for a band contest or playing a new "game" on the way home.
See photos of the band trip at the CFMA web page:
You can reach Tom at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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