Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Strike Up the Band

The Grammy Foundation has recognized Edina High School as one of 42 "Signature Schools" for excellence in music education. Thank you to the students and teachers who represent our community so well!
RicDressen @EdinaSuper 

It was one of those surreal experiences. One of those pinch-yourself moments. As a mom of an Edina High School band member, I have had many an occasion to watch our hometown band perform, but this was different. This was big. This was New York City! 

photo credit: Times Square Alliance
On November 10, the Edina Marching Band participated in the Band of Pride Tribute.  Our kids were part of an elite group of 1500 students invited to pay homage to the sacrifices of our veterans, as well as to remember the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 World Trade Center tragedy. Directed by Dr. Kenneth Dye, musical director of the University of Notre Dame, our kids played their hearts out, to the joy of the crowd. Amidst some of the largest skyscrapers in the world and animated billboards with massive, basketball-court-size electronic screens, the Edina students stood just as tall, their music resonating throughout the hearts of everyone standing in Times Square.

The following morning, our family joined hundreds of thousands of people who lined Fifth Avenue to watch the 92nd annual Veterans Day Parade, the largest parade of its kind in the nation. The air was crisp, but the excitement surrounding the event warmed us as we waited in anticipation for our band to make its debut. While we waited, we cheered on other parade participants, including members from 27 active military units, six Medal of Honor recipients, veteran’s groups that included wounded warriors, and junior ROTC troops. And we applauded for all the other high school bands, knowing firsthand how much it meant for them to be there as well.

Just when we thought we could not wait any longer, we heard an unmistakable sound in the distance. A familiar sound we had come to know while sitting in the bleachers of Kuhlman Field back in Edina on cold autumn nights. A sound that could only be created by the combined talent of 227 Edina band students giving it all they had as they marched down one of the most famous streets in Manhattan. Goose bumps formed on my skin and a shiver went down my spine as I caught my first glimpse of them as they passed the New York City Public Library, where even the famous lion sculptures appeared to be enjoying their music. The performance brought tears to our eyes, knowing the hard work that went into that moment. A moment that was appreciated by so many on that 33-block parade route.

Standing amongst the locals – construction workers on their lunch breaks, veterans representing all generations, policeman and young school children – we were lucky enough to experience that appreciation.  Eavesdropping on their conversations. we heard words and phrases describing our band: “WOW” and “…what a great band” and “…now THAT’S a marching band,” said with thick Brooklyn accents. Restraining ourselves, we did not admit to our fellow bystanders that we were proud parents, so that we could continue to listen to the unsolicited praise for our kids.

As we reflect on the day, there are so many aspects of the experience to be proud of – the long hours of practice that went into creating such a moving performance, the professionalism and respect our kids exhibited, especially toward our veterans, and the dedication of our band directors – Mr. Kile and Mr. Richter – to get our students to the point where they could earn the privilege to play in such a large venue, on such a grand stage. 

To quote Hans Christian Andersen, “Where words fail, music speaks.” The music created by the Edina Marching Band to honor our country’s veterans spoke loud and clear in New York City on these two special days. With gratitude we salute these students and their directors for an outstanding performance.  

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