Thoughts are with 'Pride of Minnesota' as marching season begins
Monday, August 19, 2013 5:24 AM
Anyone who has talked to me at length about my marching band experiences in college has inevitably heard about what inspired my dream to march at the University of Minnesota. The duly-named Pride of Minnesota performed its 2009 indoor concert at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester. My high school band director had secured tickets for several of his students and their families, including mine. The significance behind my director suggesting I go to the concert and my parents allowing me to go has only increased over time. In retrospect, it was a magnificent blessing I never realized I was being given and one that would help shape my life's direction.
I submitted an article describing my concert experience to my high school's newspaper. I recently reviewed that article in preparation for this column. I cannot begin to describe how much I understated everything. I was probably still dumbstruck from the experience and wasn't able to find the right words. Even to this day, I can't find the right words. What transpired as a result of that 2009 indoor concert transcends spoken language.
My love of the 2009 indoor concert became somewhat of a running joke during my two seasons with the band. I was unapologetic on how I felt about its significance in my life. I was too grateful for the experience to trivialize it.
In the year and a half following the concert, I prepared for college and finished high school. As an involved band student, I improved my abilities in percussion and modeled my halftime performance as drum major after Minnesota Drum Major Aaron Marks. Marching band was on my brain frequently.
Of course, I still had to choose which school to attend. I couldn't see myself being anything other than a Golden Gopher. I knew I was supposed to go there, for reasons I was not aware of at that time. One of those reasons, though not the deciding factor, was having the opportunity to march with the band. If realized, it would be nothing less than a dream come true. At that point in my life, I couldn't fathom a higher honor than putting on the uniform and representing the pride so many feel for being Minnesotan.
I determined I would audition for the drumline and began practicing the music I would need to know. I figured I could make it playing snare drum or tenor drums. I practiced, the sound of stick against drum pad annoying my family to no end. I felt like I hadn't practiced enough, but figured there would be some things I just wouldn't learn until I went to the practice rehearsals.
After being unable to make the first open rehearsal, my anticipation for the second rehearsal was sky high. For the first time, I would be entering the marching band facilities of the ensemble that had inspired me almost two years before. Before I knew it, I was staring up at TCF Bank Stadium with wonder. Then I met the drum major. Then the snare leader. Then I started panicking.
Everybody coming in to rehearse seemed like they were so good and knew exactly what was going on. I felt lost. All the practice I had put in suddenly seemed very insignificant, almost laughable. I shrunk back to the cymbal section, which I thought would be more manageable. Smashing metal plates together isn't difficult, right? Wrong. There was a certain way to hold the cymbals; right cymbal over left. One of the leaders told me I had it backward. "But I'm left handed!" I screamed inside my head. Suddenly I felt like the world had set me up to fail.
The rest of rehearsal inched to the end, leaving me sweating, frustrated at my inadequacy, and downright fearful that I had no chance in the bigger world. It was at that moment when I asked myself if my dreams were possible or founded in grand delusions.
What made the difference in what happened next was because I had been severely humbled. In my panic-stricken attitude following rehearsal, I somehow found the courage to admit my weakness and ask the drumline leaders for help. I was advised to take home the practice music and practice. As for the dancing, that was something I would just have to learn through trial. Though I went home still feeling like I was making a big mistake, I knew I just needed to put one baby step in front of the other. I could only do so much, so I had to stop worrying about it.
Despite my second-guessing, doubting and worry surrounding the upcoming audition, I leaned on the assurances I received from the leaders. I practiced. I asked questions. I let myself be willing to dance with cymbals strapped to my hands. I discovered I really wanted to become a cymbalist. After all, I had written a year and a half ago that "the cymbals were the soul of the group."
The audition came and I found myself standing in front of the drumline instructor and the five leaders. In my negative thinking, I was sure they all thought I was the poorest candidate for a cymbalist. I proceeded to have the audition of my life. Satisfied that I had done my best, worry and doubt still crept into my thoughts as I waited to find out if I had made it. When the names were revealed, I put my hands on my head in a reaction denoting disbelief and awestruck gratitude. I was a member of the Pride of Minnesota.
I'm not returning to the field this fall. Yes, I will miss it. The new drumline has already been set. The band starts Spat Camp this week. Their first game is on Aug. 29. I will not be there and yet, I will be there. Once a member, always a member of the Pride of Minnesota.