Posts Tagged ‘marching band’

by Rocky Glenn

I’ve written recently how my son’s involvement in marching band the last four years has reignited the love and interest I once had for the sport. During this time, we’ve enjoyed the four shows his band has performed over a dozen times each at multiple football games and competitions. If you were to watch the performances I’ve recorded, despite my best efforts to capture the whole band, each recording contains multiple zoomed in shots of the sideline percussion ensemble my boy has been a part of. With over sixty kids on the field, whether recording the show or not, my focus nearly always remains on my son. It has taken a conscious effort to take my gaze away from my boy and his performance to observe the other performers, including the children of close friends with whom we have had the privilege of sharing the stands. Even when my eyes would drift, it would be only a moment before I would return to focusing on who I knew on the field.

As we’ve attended the various competitions the last four years, we always planned to arrive earlier than our band performed, and generally stayed later, to enjoy the other performances and, in all parental honesty, “size up the competition!” Being a former percussionist, during the performances of the other bands I could not help but focus on the drum line and sideline ensembles. I have an appreciation for the skill a drum line possesses to perform rudiments and visual stick drills in synchronization. When my son was called upon to master the art of holding multiple mallets in each hand to execute chords on a vibraphone, I understood the practice and preparation required to accomplish the task. Due to my conditioning and training, I am rarely able to not fix my attention on the percussion section of each band we observed. This was never more evident than last weekend at the final marching competition of our boy’s high school career as my wife, a former color guard member, leans over to me while watching a competing band and says, “Nice peel-off!” I was so attuned to my beloved former instruments I responded with the ever so elegant, “Huh?” “Color guard . . . nice peel-off?” “Oh, I missed it!” I honestly had no clue what she was referencing!

We focus on what we know and what we’ve been conditioned to follow. This was my life growing up and life as a churchboy. I was taught the requirements of being a Christian and conditioned to behave as a Christian should. Christians don’t drink, don’t cuss, attend church, read the bible daily, spend hours in prayer, pay tithes, boycott movies and organizations opposed to their individual beliefs, and insist their way is the only way and all others are doomed to an eternity in hell. What a load of crap!! All of this and more is done and adhered to not necessarily because you believe it or even because you want to, but simply so you can please God and be assured He loves you. The irony is none of these things, regardless of how closely followed, truly bring assurance of either. It saddens me to admit I followed and focused on such garbage. What an amazing and humbling thing it is to realize we can be reconditioned and unlearn what we have been taught. Reconditioning occurs when old ways or methods are found to be ineffective or no longer applicable. True reconditioning for churchboys happens as their eyes are opened to the unconditional love of God Jesus came to reveal which we did nothing to deserve and can do nothing to lose. With his death and resurrection, Jesus shifted the focus from the conditions required to reach God to simply, “Come.”

One of the friends I referred to in attendance at band events earlier is a former schoolmate I spent three years marching with in high school as part of the drum line. We’ve shared memories, laughs, and critiques over a couple of the last seasons of how “things weren’t that way in our day.” (Our wives have gotten quite tickled at the curmudgeonly old men we’ve become in our early forties!) A former percussionist himself, he was reconditioned to focus elsewhere as his daughter performed as a member of the color guard. Conversations following performances revealed he no longer focused exclusively on his former instrument of his choice as his gaze was now fixed upon a greater source of love and joy.

Such is the life of a recovering churchboy. No longer focused on do’s, don’ts, rules, and conditions, I’ve now been reconditioned by a greater source of love and joy, the unconditional love and acceptance of the Father which is not dependent on anything I may have done or not done or could ever do or not do.


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by Rocky Glenn

An unexpected adventure found on a long night’s journey to observe the super moon although the intended destination was never reached, the unforgettable sensation of chills running down my arms when voices unite bringing the musical arrangements of my first Easter cantata to life, losing track of time when my newborn son opened his eyes and stared into mine as I spoke, the sweet contentment of my baby girl sitting on my lap while her favorite Disney princesses ice skate right by us, gazing into my wife’s eyes on our wedding day as I serenade her with a song written specially for the day . . .

Some of life’s greatest treasures are simply the moments we hold in our heart and reflect on, better known as memories. Memories are moments of time which made a mental impression upon us. At the time the impression is formed, we likely do not realize the images, emotions, sights, and sounds which are being recorded. Memories aren’t something you can force to happen. They form naturally and spontaneously with nearly no conscious effort on our part. Memories are formed when we learn to enjoy the moment.

Enjoying the moment can take many forms and does not necessarily mean a time of happiness, giddiness, and laughter. For the marching band students from my previous post, the director’s admonition to enjoy the moment certainly did not authorize them to be frivolous and silly during their performance. His words served as a reminder and encouragement to simply say, “You’ve prepared. You’ve put in the blood, sweat, and tears required to get you here. Now, relax, give it all your all and do what you know to do.” He was telling them to be present in this moment and experience it as it happens with joy, pleasure, and satisfaction.

To better understand this concept, it’s important to know the difference between happiness and joy. Though similar, the two emotions differ based on their source and where they originate. Happiness relies on external factors such as circumstances, events, and even other people. Happiness can be fleeting: here one moment, gone the next. Joy is lasting and is found internally. It resides in controlling what you can and letting go of what you can’t. Joy comes in knowing who you are and accepting who you are. Defined biblically, joy simply means a calm delight. This is the message the band director was trying to convey. Remain calm and delight in this moment and the memory will form itself.

Despite the moments listed above, some memories do not become enjoyable until we view them in the future as reflections of the past. To label those moments as bad memories is a disservice. I believe this is where the pleasure and satisfaction part of enjoying the moment applies. Even in times of unhappiness, pain, and sorrow, it’s possible to reside in a state of calm delight. No one enjoys times of loss and suffering, yet during those times some of our most treasured memories are formed. I was five years old when I lost my grandfather in South Carolina, yet no one will ever be able to steal the moment I crawled up on his hospital bed and kissed him on the cheek and said, “I love you, Papa,” for the final time although he was already gone. Twenty-seven years later I stood beside my mother in the emergency room as we now said goodbye to her dad, and he drew his final breath. Those moments were crushing and heart-breaking to live through but looking back I value each of those moments as both honored and sacred moments.

If I’m being honest, since I set out on this path a couple of weeks ago of examining what it means to enjoy the moment, I have encountered just as many moments I wished to run away from as I sought to enjoy. On many occasions I’ve neglected the notion of being present in the moment as I’ve longed for an escape. I will share more about that next time as I discuss why we don’t often enjoy the moment and what keeps us from doing so. In the meantime, I encourage you to take time to read this tale from three years ago of my family’s experience of attempting to enjoy the journey of going on vacation.


More posts in the Enjoying the Moment series:

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by Rocky Glenn

It’s that time of year again.  This coming Monday my son begins his fourth and final year of band camp for his upcoming senior year of high school.  When he began his high school marching band career four years ago, I did not realize it would rekindle the love of halftime shows and band festivals I once experienced myself.  It’s not that my admiration for the art had ever really faded, but dormant memories of after school practices, Friday night football games, and Saturday competitions resurfaced for the first time in many years.  Many times over the last three years I’ve mentally been taken back to playing stand tunes, loading and unloading buses, moving equipment, and anxiously awaiting to take the field for performance.

At one competition last fall, just as a band had taken the field and was about to begin, I heard a simple phrase I do not recall ever being uttered at a band competition.  Once the PA announcer had given the command to enter the field in competition and the spectators had fallen quiet in anticipation, three little words were heard from the band director standing on the sideline, “Enjoy the moment!”

Those three words stuck in my head.  I knew from experience all the work, energy, sweat, dedication, and effort required to get to this point.  For the last three months the students had prepared and rehearsed meticulously every minute musical and visual detail yet to be revealed in the minutes to follow.  A typical marching show lasts between eight and nine minutes and is the result of over two hundred hours of practice which many times consists of repeating the same thirty seconds of the program constantly for half an hour or more.  Every second and every minute of rehearsal and each football game performance had been building to this moment and the final words of instruction are not, “Give your all!”, or “This is it!”, or “Remember . . . “, but simply, “Enjoy the moment!”

To enjoy something is to experience it with joy and find pleasure and satisfaction in it.  A moment is an exact point in time.  To enjoy the moment is to experience this point in time with joy, pleasure, and satisfaction.  Put a different way, to “enjoy the moment” is to “be here now.”  I’ve had a coworker once use that phrase as a password.  At first glance, it seemed to indicate a lack of patience, but upon closer look it serves as a reminder to be present where you are.

For the sake of storytelling and narrative of this post, it would be amazing to write from the perspective of one who has conquered this idea.  I can’t say whether anyone else in attendance, in the stands or on the field, was struck by the director’s words, but the image of that moment is etched in my memory.  As awe-inspiring as it would be to write how it was a life changing moment and I have enjoyed every moment which has come my way since that blustery Saturday afternoon last October, to do so would be false and a lie. Still yet, the words echo in my head.

In the posts and weeks ahead, I intend to take a closer a look at what it means to enjoy the moment, why we often do not enjoy the moment, and exactly how we can truly enjoy the moment.

I look forward to the posts to come and sharing my thoughts with you.


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