The Amazing MMEA Journey

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It all started the first week back in school there was talk of this MMEA thingy. Mr. Sweeny looked at us as we filed into the band room of the 2008-2009 Viking Band season and flashes a smile before us. I sit in my chair with my trumpet in my lap and look back at him with despair and wonder what he got us into. As he announces why his smile is so grand I put my hands over my face and plunge my face into my knees and whine. It's not the fact of my academic integrity I just thought since this was my last year in band that it would be quite fun just to hang out and have a good time playing music. But, Mr. Sweeny and the MMEA had different plans than I did. Viking Band is about the marching and the parades and I was for it. Getting up early and going to school and marching in a line was the life for me. But then Sunday practices for band? Ugh. I got the feeling that this pretty important. Now I am not that Trumpet player that goes home every weekend and practices for few hours to keep my chops up to date with the music we were playing. I spent time otherwise outside playing soccer or homework or just playing videogames and playing the piano. Now I do play piano for a purpose and its relaxing and its my favorite instrument, but when Mr. Sweeny said we were going to play for hundreds of people I was influenced enough to start learning my part really well and getting it down so he and I wouldn't get criticized by all the other band directors out there at the performance.
January rolls around quickly and we are getting back into the groove of things and only 4 weeks until we headed down to Tan-Tar-a. I felt the importance of this performance about as much as the rest of the band members did. I tried to picture all the people out there every time we play one of our pieces especially To Dance in the Secret Garden I loved that piece to death. Now for Dear Path Dances I am being honest, I didn't know the really fast part at 118 well enough to play loud because I messed up so much. I took my instrument home every weekend to practice that part at least a few hours over the course of two days but I just never played that part loud enough to be heard for all.
January 29, 2009 I pull into the West parking lot with my mother in the passenger seat at 4:15 in the morning to find the buses being loaded the band trailer being loaded and a bunch of tired faces. I slung my tuxedo on the rack in the equipment trailer and I fled to the buses. I happened to be on Bus A. Everyone I was good friends with was on the bus. We just had an amazing time all the way down. I slept for like twenty minutes during the whole thing; otherwise I was texting people and just looking out the window with my iPod blasting in my ear! We got there sometime early before the sun had risen from its eternal slumber. As we were getting out of the buses I yawned and thought to myself well this better be amazing because I am missing school for this!! We got breakfast at like 6 something but I remember it being exceptionally good because there were a ton of doughnuts and I ate 6 or 7 of them. We change in those tiny bathrooms and go to salon B and get our instruments and go back to the Breakfast room and warm up. My chops were perfect the entire time through warm up and then going into this giant hall and warming up some more there. As I searched the hall I recognized faces and saw the past 5 months flash before my eyes. From the beginning to the end and all the events in between! Mr. Sweeny got us all set and ready as the announcements flew through the speakers and over the crowd and a hush fell upon the chatter.
We raised our instruments as the lights dimmed upon us. It was like a dream only better, because it was actually happening! Then he gave us the count and speed and... We were off! The song sang though the great hall as we played with such dignity and pride. The dynamics and expression were dead on and everyone was on the same page. The song sounded even more amazing than ever before. The flutes and the bass clarinet nailed their solos from what I saw and heard when I wasn't playing. The whole performance was mastered as I realized it was over... the second time in my life I had ever felt the since of satisfaction from all the hard work we accomplished in the band room and then to come down to Tan-Tar-a and play for hundreds of people and get a standing ovation was just the cherry on the icing!
During the applause Mr. Sweeny came over to me and shook my hand and congratulated me and thanked me for all my hard work and I remember seeing a relief in his eye that was indescribable! After leaving Tan-Tar-a I was truly glad that I had been apart of Viking band and now wish I could go again. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life as a teenager so far. It will definitely be a great memory that will be sustained in my memory for a long time!





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