by Dr. Matthew Brunner, Director of Athletic Bands
We’re on summer vacation!!!!! Well, at least with Temple’s classes being done, the calendar says so even if the weather doesn’t. It feels a bit more like late October. I wonder if that is part of the reason I am looking forward to the upcoming marching season as much as I am.
We all need a break sometimes. Classes, work, anything can wear on you. We need that time to refresh and recharge. During that time, I always like to step back and look at where we have been, where we are, and where we want to go.
We had a great year last year. Big home games, College GameDay, Boca Raton Bowl, AAC Basketball Tournament in Orlando, NCAA Tournament in Brooklyn; it was a great year! After an incredible football season, we earned the two free days on the beach in Boca Raton. (And who can beat sitting on the beach in 80+ degrees in December!)
Busy seasons always test you. They test your preparedness. They test your dedication. They test your perseverance.
- Preparedness – Are you organizationally, physically, mentally, socially, spiritually prepared to do what you need to do?
- Organizationally – Organizing your life in a way that you are always LOOKING AHEAD is one of the most important things you can do. Not everyone works at the same speed, so getting done what you can when you can will help to make other things go smoother when they come up.
- Physically – Did you run in the off-season or get enough rest? If not, in season rehearsals may wear you down where you can’t work. On Game Days, you may be worn out by the 4th quarter when the team and the fans need you the most. People are depending on you to be at your best!
- Mentally – Do you work AHEAD of schedule and not wait until the last minute to do things? Have you looked at your drill charts or music before rehearsal so that these items are learned quickly and we can spend more time cleaning than learning.
- Socially – Have you made your personal schedule so that you can do the things you NEED to do, while still completing the things you WANT to do. Everyone needs that personal time with friends outside of class…but you should always feel like you EARNED it.
- Spiritually – Whether it is God, a beloved relative that always believed in you, or the spirit of band alumni and fans…there is ALWAYS something else that you can look for to help you through hard times. Why does a football team like playing tough teams at home? Because of the SPIRIT from the home crowd that will help them bring out their best. What do you fall back on to help you? And can YOU help someone else in a similar way?
- Dedication – You have a lot of work to do. You have a paper to write. You have music to memorize. It’s easy to let something slide when you are overwhelmed. But when that happens, you not only let someone else down, you let yourself down. Everything you do should be done to the absolute BEST of your ability.
- Perseverance – When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Yeah, we’ve all heard that before. But people have forgotten what that means. Some think, when times are hard, it’s best to get rid of the tough things, to ease up your commitments so you can focus on a smaller number of things to accomplish. That’s not how life works. It means when things get difficult, you plug away, you PERSEVERE to reach your goals.
Every year, I have students entering college who say to me, “Oh, I won’t have time for band because of my classwork.” How do you know? You haven’t been here to see what life is like in college. And how do you think you will cope with life after college if you “don’t like being too busy.” I hate to break it to you…but it only gets worse!! High School was busier than Middle School, and College is busier than High School…. but adulthood is College x 10. The big difference in adulthood is that OTHER PEOPLE depend on you more than ever before. You HAVE to do the work or others will fail with you. And if you are not used to working diligently and giving your best through busy times, you will have a hard time in the real world.
It’s hard to go at 100% all the time. That’s why we need those breaks. We need to do those “other things.” When I ran track, in the offseason or off weekends, we were told to do some “active rest,” which meant I didn’t need to go work on hurdles, but to do something else physical so I didn’t get out shape, but not doing the constant grind of running like I did the rest of the time.
For a lot of students, Marching Band is that something different that they do in their day. It’s not classical music, or solo literature, it’s not doing research in the library, writing a paper, or doing experiments in the lab. It’s people from MANY different walks of life, different backgrounds, different majors, different abilities, and different goals, coming together to participate in something that bonds people organizationally, physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually. It’s work, but it’s fun work. It’s rewarding work.
There is nothing I would rather do than what I am doing. I love my job, and I love my students. Sure I have those down days. Sure I have those times when I would rather be doing something else. But when it comes down to it, I am happiest when I feel that sense of camaraderie, success, and accomplishment that brings together so many different people. It makes me appreciate even more when I stick through the hard times and never give up. I like to feel like I EARNED my breaks, my weekends, or my glass of wine. I know I am a better person for it. It just goes to show……